Heavier than normal work activities can result in a heart attack, even in a person who does not exhibit any signs of heart problems. In the parlance of the Colorado workers' compensation system, this is known as "unusual exertion". When unusual exertion does cause a heart attack, a worker can claim workers' compensation benefits, though such cases are often contested by insurance companies.
A heart attack is frequently preceded by the development of arteriosclerosis, commonly called hardening of the arteries or heart disease. Several studies have shown a link between work duties and the development of heart disease.
Long work hours contribute to the development of heart disease
A study completed by Seoul National University in South Korea indicates that working more than 40 hours a week increases the risk of developing heart disease. It looked at 8,350 adult Koreans and found that the longer they worked, the more likely they were to develop heart disease within 10 years. In particular:
- Those who worked 61-70 hours per week were 42 percent more likely to develop heart disease.
- Those who worked 71-80 hours per week were 63 percent more likely to develop heart disease.
- Those who worked more than 80 hours per week were 94 percent more likely to develop heart disease.
A study by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston showed similar results. It found that for full-time workers, the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease event (including angina, coronary heart disease or failure, heart attack, high blood pressure, or stroke) increased one percent for each additional hour worked each week.
Standing at work for long hours doubles the risk of developing heart disease
Workers who spend much of their time standing, such as cashiers or hotel doormen, face an increased risk for heart disease. That's according to researchers at the Institute for Work and Health and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Canada. The scientists who completed the study concluded that work duties that combined standing, sitting, and moving around had the most beneficial effect on heart health.
Rotating night shifts can increase the risk of heart disease
Researchers at Harvard Medical School looked at the health histories of nearly 75,000 nurses. They found that cardiovascular disease mortality was 19 percent higher for nurses who had worked 6-14 years on rotating night shifts and 23 percent higher for those who worked 15 or more years on rotating night shifts.
"My job is killing me."
That could be more than a just a joke or a light-hearted complaint. There could be a foundation of truth in that statement.
If you have contracted a heart condition related to your work activities or workplace conditions, then get medical help as soon as possible. You may also want to speak with an attorney about the possibility of claiming workers' compensation benefits.