Hard-working Kiwis at increased risk of suffering strokes

Evidence is mounting that full-time workers in New Zealand may have an increased chance of suffering a stroke.

The latest of several studies analysing the link between long working hours and strokes surveyed almost 150,000 people in France.

The results, published by the American Heart Association, found that those working days of 10 hours or more, for more than 50 days per year, have a 29 percent increased chance of a stroke.

Furthermore, those who kept up those hours for more than 10 years increased their potential for a stroke by 45 percent.

In New Zealand, the average full-time worker put in a hefty 42.7 hours per week in 2018 according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

That level of hours puts Kiwis amongst the hardest-working in all developed nations with only people in Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Turkey, Chile, South Africa, Israel and Iceland working longer hours.

The latest study, published in July this year, follows on from a 2015 analysis of more than 600,000 people that found those who consistently work more than 35-40 hours per week have an increased risk of stroke.

In 2012, research found that 60 percent of workers in Japan who died from Karoshi (death from overwork) died of stroke.

Furthermore, in 2018, it was revealed that New Zealand is the fourth worst in the world for unmanageable stress, and the workplace is one of the main drivers.

Whatever way you look at it, it seems New Zealanders meet the criteria for an increased chance of stroke. 

The Stroke Foundation recommends getting regular blood pressure tests and eating a diet low in salt as two practical measures to prevent strokes.

Hard-working Kiwis at increased risk of suffering strokes
Photo credit: Stroke Foundation

Knowing the signs of someone having a stroke can also save their life. The Stroke Foundation recommends calling 111 if you see someone experiencing the following symptoms:

  • Sudden weakness and/or numbness of face,
  • Sudden weakness of the arm (and/or leg)
  • Difficulty speaking, or lost voice

It's believed the above symptoms are present in 85 percent of strokes.


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