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It is known that excessive working hours can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, but there is little and imprecise scientific evidence and nearly all of it is related to coronary diseases. This meta-analysis has the aim of strengthening the hypothesis of excessive working hours as a risk factor for coronary disease and stroke. To do so, the authors analysed 25 European, American and Australian studies, which gathered no less than 603,838 men and women without coronary disease and 528,838 men and women without a history of stroke (previous studies were of around 15,000 individuals, 40 times less than the current one). The first group was followed during an average of 8.5 years and the second one during 7.2 years. Once the impact of gender, age and socioeconomic status was eliminated, a clear increase of the relative risk (RR of 1.33) of suffering a stroke was observed in those people who worked more than 55 hours a week according to those with a standard working schedule of 35-40 hours per week. However, the increase in coronary disease risk was not so clear. Among the ones who worked between 49 to 55 hours, the relative risk increase was less than 1.27 and the relative risk was low (RR 1.1) for the ones who worked from 41 to 48 hours, and similar to previous studies. The authors hypothesise that working excessive hours is related with stressful situations, a sedentary lifestyle, alcohol, lack of sleep, overweight, etc., which would be the real reasons causing the increase in cardiovascular risk.
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