According to a recent study, the risk of heart disease could increase in women who participate in shift work. The study, conducted by The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, tested two groups of women for early signs of heart disease: those who worked in shifts and those who did not. All women tested were of ages 22 to 66 and all were employees at a hospital working in various roles including nurses, laboratory technicians and administrative workers.
It was found that 1 in 5 of the women who worked shifts had a minimum of three out of the five possible risk indicators of heart disease. The highest risk group were the women over 45 years of age who had worked 12 hour shifts for over 6 years.
This indicates that the length of any one shift and the number of years working shifts also play a role in the development of heart disease in women. The results also showed that 60% of the women who did shift work were at
risk of becoming obese and 38% had high blood pressure. This indicates that these women are at a higher risk of developing heart disease as well as many other conditions such as Type II diabetes and stroke.
Heart illustration via Shutterstock
Coronary heart disease(CHD) is a build up of fatty deposits which cause a blockage or partial blockage of the arteries supplying the heart muscle with blood. Known factors which contribute to the development of heart disease include smoking, obesity, diabetes, stress and high blood pressure. Other factors which also play a role include age, gender, income and where you live.
Heart disease is still the number one cause of death worldwide and it is recommended that some simple lifestyle changes can reduce the risks of its development. Women taking part in shift work will suffer from sleep deprivation, stress and eating patterns will be disrupted. These are factors which may need to be addressed as a Health and Safety issue in the workplace and encouraging healthy behaviour may help reduce heart disease in women working shifts.