New study links working overtime to high blood pressure

Study highlights toll extra hours have on health


DETROIT – For many people, working overtime is just part of the job. But a new study is highlighting the hidden toll those extra hours might be taking on your health.

According to the study, working more than 40 hours a week can put someone at risk for “masked hypertension," which is when blood pressure is high at work or at home, but not in the doctor’s office. That makes it more difficult to detect.

Experts found that even if the blood pressure readings were normal in a relaxed environment, in a controlled environment, such as at work, if someone is working longer hours, there’s a 70% higher risk for having masked hypertension.

The study looked at more than 3,000 office workers over a five-year period. Participants wore devices to measure their blood pressure throughout the day. Researchers examined sustained hypertension -- or blood pressure that is consistently high -- as well as masked hypertension.

Researchers found people who worked more than 40 hours per week had an increased risk for both masked and sustained hypertension. The risk climbed even higher for people working more than 49 hours per week, experts said.

It’s not just a matter of added stress -- long hours at work often go hand-in-hand with more sitting, less sleep and poor eating habits, health officials said.

“The most important thing is for people who work long hours to understand that they are at risk for potentially having high blood pressure, and it’s important that they bring it up to their doctor so the doctors can arrange for home blood pressure monitoring or 24-hour blood pressure monitoring,” said Dr. George Thomas, a Cleveland Clinic nephrologist.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, so it’s important to know if you have it so you can take the appropriate lifestyle changes and take medication, if needed.

About the Authors: