Working longer hours may make the boss happy, but it could take a toll on your heart

If you find yourself spending extra hours at work, take note: They may take a physical toll. A study released today in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that those who put in more than 11 hours a day at their jobs had a greater relative risk of coronary heart disease than those who worked fewer hours.

Researchers looked at data on 7,095 male and female full-time British civil servants ages 39 to 62 who had no evidence of coronary heart disease at the beginning of the study. During an average 12 years of follow-up, in which the participants were screened every five years for heart disease, 192 people suffered nonfatal heart attacks or coronary death.

After adjusting for risk factors such as gender, age, cholesterol and blood pressure, those whose workdays lasted 11 hours or more (10.4% of participants) had a 67% higher relative risk for heart disease than those who routinely worked a seven or eight-hour day (54% of participants).

“Our study ... adds to the existing evidence by showing that information on long working hours may help clinicians to more accurately determine [coronary heart disease] risk in patients,” the authors wrote.