Women Workers on Night Shifts Increased Risk for Coronary Disease
June 7, 2016
A recent medical study, conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, revealed that women who work a rotating night shift for ten or more years are at a 15-18% increased risk for coronary heart disease.
The study was published in JAMA, a highly reputable medical journal. Heart disease itself affects millions of Americans and is reported to be the cause of 1 out of every 4 deaths. There are many risk factors for heart disease that have already been medically-established, such as: cigarette smoking, a high body mass index (BMI), limited physical activity and poor dieting. However, the study reported that although it limited the four areas of heart disease risks, when there was rotational night shifts for long periods of time involved, the risk went right back up.
The study spanned a 24-year period, which is quite impressive. It also included over 189,000 women who had rotating night shift work. Remarkably, some of the women in the study only worked 3 night shifts per month – in combination with daytime or afternoon/evening shifts – and still were shown to have been at an increased risk for coronary heart disease, heart attack and even death.
The methods for reporting were, understandably, medically-based. For example, the women would include whether or not they had any heart attacks, chest pain, a variety of cardiovascular procedures (such as coronary artery bypass graft surgery, stents or angioplasties) and/or angiograms. Out of the 189,000 female participants, within the 24 years that the study spanned, over 10,000 of them developed new cases of coronary heart disease.
The study also found that women who had recently worked rotational night shifts versus having worked them long ago were at a much steeper risk level. The researchers concluded that the new findings – those that show the effects of recent, rotating night shifts – warranted more research in order to turn over additional findings. However, the study concluded with the research team recommending that the amount of rotational night shifts as well as rotating shifts in general be limited as much as possible, so as to limit the otherwise increased risk for coronary heart disease.
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