Long Working Hours At Office Increases Risk Of Regular And Hidden High Blood Pressure
White collar workers who spend long hours on the job are more likely to have high blood pressure
, including a type that can go undetected during a routine medical appointment, according to a new study published today in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension
or high blood pressure
affects nearly 30 per cent of adults globally aged 18 and older and is a primary factor in more than 540,000 deaths per year. Approximately 15-30% of adults globally have a type of the condition called masked hypertension
, meaning their high blood pressure
readings are normal during health care visits but elevated when measured elsewhere.
The recent study, conducted by a Canadian research team, enlisted more than 3,500 white-collar employees at three public institutions in Quebec. These institutions generally provide insurance services to the general population. Compared with colleagues who worked fewer than 35 hours a week:
-Working 49 or more hours each week was linked to a 70% greater likelihood of having masked hypertension
and 66% greater likelihood of having sustained hypertension- elevated blood pressure
readings in and out of a clinical setting.
-Working between 41 and 48 hours each week was linked to a 54% greater likelihood of having masked hypertension
and 42% greater likelihood of having sustained hypertension
-The findings accounted for variables such as job strain, age, sex, education level, occupation, smoking status, body mass index and other health factors.
Lead author Dr Xavier Trudel, Ph.D., assistant professor in the social and preventive medicine department at Laval University in Quebec, Canada told Thailand Medical
News, "Both masked and sustained high blood pressure
are linked to higher cardiovascular disease risk. The observed associations accounted for job strain, a work stressor defined as a combination of high work demands and low decision-making authority. However, other related stressors might have an impact. Future research could examine whether family responsibilities such as a worker's number of children, household duties and childcare role, might interact with work circumstances to explain high blood pressure
The detailed five-year study involved three waves of testing: in years one, three and five. To simulate in-clinic blood pressure readings, a trained assistant provided participants with a wearable monitor to check each participant's resting blood pressure
three times in one morning. For the rest of the workday, the participant wore the blood pressure monitoring device, which took readings every 15 minutes, collecting a minimum of 20 additional measures for one day. Average resting readings at or above 140/90 mmHg, and average working readings at or above 135/85, were considered high.
Altogether, almost 19% of the workers had sustained hypertension
, which included employees who were already taking high blood pressure
tions. More than 13% of the workers had masked hypertension
and not receiving treatment for high blood pressure
Dr Trudel added, "The link between long working hours and high blood pressure
in the study was about the same for men as for women."
The recent study "Did not include blue-collar workers (employees who are paid by the hour and perform manual labor work in positions such agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining, maintenance or hospitality service), therefore, these findings may not reflect the impact on blood pressure
of shift-work or positions with higher physical demands," the authors said.
Other limitations include the study's measurement of blood pressure
only during daytime hours, and the omission of hours worked outside participants' primary job.
The research authors noted several strengths of the study, including its many volunteers, accounting for multiple factors that can impact blood pressure, repeated testing over several years, the use of wearable monitors instead of relying on workers' reports of their blood pressure
readings; and the use of the same monitors for all blood pressure
Dr Trudel further commented, "People should be aware that long work hours might affect their heart health, and if they're working long hours, they should ask their doctors about checking their blood pressure over time with a wearable monitor.
can affect someone for a long period of time and is associated, in the long term, with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. We have previously shown that over five years, about 1 out of 5 people with masked hypertension
never showed high blood pressure
in a clinical setting, potentially delaying diagnosis and treatment."
Reference : Xavier Trudel et al, Long Working Hours and the Prevalence of Masked and Sustained Hypertension, Hypertension (2019). DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.119.12926