Workaholics Risk Heart Attack and Dementia

Long working hours may weaken mental skills and raise the risk of heart attack and dementia.

A Finnish study of 2,214 middle-aged civil servants found that those working more than 55 hours a week had poorer mental skills than those who worked a standard working week.

The civil servants who took part in the study took five different tests of their mental function. Those doing the most overtime recorded lower scores in the tests assessing reasoning and vocabulary.

The effects were cumulative — the longer the working week was the worse the test results were.

Brain imaging specialist Dr Amen says we must think of the brain as a computer that needs to sleep, hibernate, shut down and re-boot on a regular basis to prevent brain fatigue. He referred to a different study — this one tracking 7,000 workers over more than a decade — that has shown working 11 hours a day or more not only increases your risk of heart attack by 67 percent, it also increases your chances of developing dementia later in life.

The researchers at University College London couldn’t nail down exactly why long days at the desk were putting people at risk, but the usual grab bag of problems is on the radar: more stress, not enough sleep, not enough exercise and an increased chance of a junky diet.

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