Working Night Shifts Increases Risk Of Atrial Fibrillation

Women are more susceptible to atrial fibrillation (AF) than men when working night shifts.

Shift work has been linked to a wide range of health problems including gastrointestinal and digestive issues, insomnia, obesity, depression, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease as well as certain cancers. A new study published in the European Heart Journal has also people who work night shifts are at increased risk of developing an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation (AF), as well as heart disease. This risk is even higher for women and people who don’t exercise regularly.

In addition, the researchers found that the longer and more frequently that people worked night shifts over their lifetimes, the greater their risk of atrial fibrillation. However, night shift work was not linked to stroke or heart failure, said the authors.

Reduce the frequency and duration of night shift work

Shift work refers to a work schedule that differs from the standard daylight working hours (i.e. 7 am to 6 pm). In order to study the link between night shifts and atrial fibrillation, the researchers used data from over 283,600 people in UK Biobank. After adjusting for other risk factors, it was found that:

  • People currently working night shifts on a usual or permanent basis had a 12% increased risk of AF compared to those who only worked during the day.
  • For those who had a lifetime duration of night shifts, the risk of AF increased to 18% after ten or more years.
  • People who worked an average of three to eight night shifts a month for ten years or more had 22% increased risk of AF compared to daytime workers.
  • Women were more susceptible to AF than men when working night shifts for more than ten years.
  • People reporting an ideal amount of physical activity of 150 minutes a week or more had a lower risk of AF than those with non-ideal physical activity when exposed to a lifetime of night shift work.

Based on the study results, the researchers suggested that reducing both the frequency and the duration of night shift work may be beneficial for the health of the heart and blood vessels.

Also read: Social distancing helps reduce alcohol consumption among college students

How to Reduce the Effects of Shift Work

It is best to opt for standard daylight working hours. But if you don’t have the choice, making healthy lifestyle choices, including a balanced diet (timings are very crucial), regular exercise and adequate sleep may significantly help reduce the health risks of shift work.

Working till late at night can also result in Shift Work Sleep Disorder (SWSD), which is characterized by irritation, short temper, hair fall, lack of concentration, disturbed sleep pattern, giddiness, and headache.

Our body gets dry when we work till late. Ayurveda experts suggest having a teaspoon of ghee before going out for work at night to balance this dryness.

Hair fall is one of the symptoms of SWSD. To combat this effect, apply and massage hair oil regularly to your scalp and the length of your hair.

Getting a steam therapy or body massage once a week may help get relief from body pains, and promote blood circulation. You can also practice meditation and yoga for better concentration.

This post first appeared on The Health Site

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