Working long hours increases risk of stroke by 45 percent, new study says

The average American works about 47 to 50 hours per week. Everyone needs to make ends meet, but at what cost to your health?

A new American Heart Association study now looks at the link between working long hours and an increased risk of stroke.

Taking time out for himself is something 42-year-old Jeff Hiserodt never used to do.

"I was putting in close to 60 to 65 hours," he said.

Hiserodt's secondary market resale business kept him working seven days a week - until he had a massive stroke a year and half ago.

"I had a blood clot behind my right eye. I was paralyzed on my left side and blind," he said.

Working long days to make ends meet is a common story. In a new study in Journal Stroke, French researchers found people who worked long hours for 10 years or more had a 45% greater stroke risk. And the association seemed stronger for people under the age of 50.

"The type of work that you do, I'm sure factors into this. The type of lifestyle that you have also factors into this," said Dr. Arbi Ohanian, medical director of Huntington Hospital's stroke program.

In the study, working long hours was defined as working 10 hours at least 50 days per year. The average American works up to 50 hours per week. But Ohanian says this study is not a reason to start worrying.

"Everybody has different social situations. You can't just tell somebody don't work because it's a stressful job, every job is stressful," Ohanian said. "But if you see it gets to a point where its unhealthy, then that's a different story. You may want to reconsider what you do."

Ohanian says the most important takeaway is to do the things proven to prevent strokes like quit smoking.

"Eating healthy, exercising at least 30 minutes a day. Making sure any risk factors you have like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, any cardiac issues need to be addressed by your physicians," Ohanian said.

And make stress management a priority. For Hiserodt, that's the most valuable lesson.

"I take the time out to go to a nice painting class with my friends at my stroke group," he said, "I work out. I ride my bike. I changed my whole life. I don't want to take for granted the second chance that I've been given."
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