Study Finds Health Danger for Shift Workers

People who work evening or night shifts, rotating shifts or irregular shifts may suffer from a serious but invisible workplace danger: an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Researchers who examined the results of more than 30 different studies found that shift workers are more likely than others to have a heart attack or stroke, according to a report on MedlinePlus.

The experts looked at information from more than 2 million patients. They found that shift workers are about 23 percent more likely to have a heart attack than non-shift workers. They are also about 5 percent more at risk for strokes.

Night shift workers were the most affected, with a 41 percent higher risk of heart-related illness. The lead researcher, Dr. Daniel Hackam, said shift work could be to blame for many heart attacks and strokes in the United States. “Since we are now in a 24/7 society, this problem is not likely to go away any time soon,” Hackam said.

Dr. Gregg Fonarow, who teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, pointed out that the findings support other research linking shift work or irregular hours to increased risks of heart-related illnesses and strokes. With an estimated 15 million people in the United States working odd schedules or evening and night shifts, the findings point to a serious workplace health problem.

Health Precautions for Shift Workers
Dr. Hackam said that all employers and employees need to be aware of these health risks. He suggested regular screenings for shift workers to check for signs of heart problems.

Workers should take extra steps to protect and improve their health, especially heart health, the experts say. Make sure you get enough sleep — especially high-quality sleep — if you work nights or irregular hours. Avoid junk food and caffeine, and try to sneak in a quick nap before work.

Contact a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney
The Columbia, S.C., workplace injury lawyers at Louthian Law Firm have experience in workers’ compensation cases. If you have been injured at work, call us at 1-866-410-5656 or fill out our confidential online case evaluation form.

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