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Working Long Hours Is Silently Putting Your Heart In Danger

By Soumik Ghosh

Working long hours might be one of the most dangerous things you're doing to your heart right now. And mind us saying this, but this problem even stands a chance to pop up even if you've never had any heart issues before.

You're spending way too much time at office. And it's not only your free time, that's getting drained. By logging in too much overtime, you, without realising, are just working yourself to death.

At least that's what European Heart Journal has to say. A recently published study by the organization points out that working long hours can increase your chances of atrial fibrillation.

They recently surveyed more than 85,000 working adults basically to understand how many hours they worked each week. In course, it was discovered that people who worked 55 hours or more in a week were 42 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation than those working somewhat in between 35 and 40 hours a week.

What's even more terrifying? 9 out of every 10 cases of atrial fibrillation were detected in people who did not have any pre-existing or existing heart disease. This clearly suggests that long work hours is the reason behind the extra risk of the condition, rather than existing heart issues.

What Is Atrial Fibrillation?

Ever feel like your heart is racing or fluttering? Does it continue even when you're at rest? More than often, these symptoms can trace back to an arrhythmia or heart rhythm disorder. And one common arrhythmia is known as atrial fibrillation or AFib.

Atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat, usually refers to a situation when the upper two chambers of your heart do not beat keeping synchronization with the lower two chambers, or the ventricles. Normally, it's pacemakers at rest that beat at rates between 60 and 100 beats per minute. Contrastingly, during atrial fibrillation, the atria are activated at rates of 400 beats per minute in a chaotic electrical pattern.

This irregular beating can cause blood to pool, which in turn forms clots possibly leading to a stroke. If not checked and controlled, atrial fibrillation also weakens your heart, which might lead to heart failure.

What Are The Symptoms?

The researchers believe that long working hours may hinder your autonomic nervous system, thus raising the risks of atrial fibrillation. Stress and related issues that go hand-in-hand with long work hours, may also trigger arrhythmia.

So how do you judge the signs of atrial fibrillation so that necessary precautions

can be taken at the earliest? Here are some of the symptoms to look out for.

1. Heart palpitations or, simply put, when you feel that your heart is racing or fluttering

2. Chest pain, pressure or discomfort

3. Shortness of breath

4. Lightheadedness

5. Fatigue or serious lack of energy

6. Intolerance towards exercising

Atrial fibrillation usually occurs occasionally with symptoms that might just come and go. Or in some cases, last for a few minutes to hours, and after that it stops on its own. Do not ignore these symptoms even if they're temporary.

Atrial Fibrillation In Older Adults

As the research still goes on, researchers are finding out that atrial fibrillation is more common in older adults. Approximately, 11 per cent of people above or in their 80s are affected by this type of arrhythmia.

And in a lot of cases, people with atrial fibrillation don't foresee any symptoms until it's discovered as the cause of their first stroke.

The risk for stroke is higher if diagnosed with AFib, backed by factors like heart valve disease, diabetes, heart failure and hypertension.

Atrial Fibrillation Among Teens

It might not always be related to work hours as even teens can also have symptoms of atrial fibrillation. It can either come as a single and isolated event or repeated episodes follow if there are signs of any underlying condition.

Pediatric patients almost always demonstrate symptoms of palpitations prior to serious events, such as a cardiac arrest.

What Can You Do?

Cutting down on working hours is sure to help reduce your heart risks. But we understand that mostly it's financially not feasible. But, in such a scenario, what you can do is to make healthy habits a priority. Start slow by adding one healthy habit to your routine for the first two weeks.

You can try fitting in a 20-minute walk into your lunch time. Or to log a full 7 hours of sleep each night, and you can turn your phone off when you get to bed. Add another, when your first positive change becomes a routine. These changes that seem tiny at the moment, will add up-helping you destress for the busy work schedule.

If you think you are facing the symptoms of atrial fibrillation, please do not hesitate to consult your doctor or a subject expert in this matter.

If you have any question for us or something else that you want to share, feel free to drop a comment below; we'll be more than glad to answer your queries.

Read more about: heart
Story first published: Friday, July 20, 2018, 10:00 [IST]
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