Approximately 8.6 million Americans perform shift work outside of the normal 9 to 5 work hours. Previous research has shown that working nights can lead to poor sleep patterns and gastrointestinal problems. Recent research published in the March 2009 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sleep suggests that night shift work may lead to hormonal and metabolic changes that may increase the risk for heart disease. Misalignment of circadian rhythms can cause impaired blood sugar levels, elevated blood pressures and cause weight gain. This study also included adults working rotating shifts, not only permanent night shift workers. This was a small, short-term study and further research is needed before conclusions can be drawn about the general population.
The bottom line is this study reiterates the importance of routine screenings for heart disease risk factors to prevent future heart problems in people working night or rotating shifts.
“Take Charge: A Woman’s Guide to a Healthier Heart” discusses how women can help prevent a heart attack, stroke and heart failure. “Take Charge: A Man’s Roadmap to a Healthier Heart” is due to be released Fall 2009. For more info visit www.heart-strong.com