London: Night shift workers are at the highest risk of heart attacks and strokes because of their unhealthy eating and sleeping habits, a new research has claimed.
Researchers from Stroke Prevention & Atherosclerosis Research Centre (SPARC) in London and Ontario found shift workers were almost 25 percent more likely to suffer and night shift workers run the highest risk of 41 percent, the 'Daily Mail' reported.
The study was published on the British Medical Journal website.
People working shifts also have higher levels of unhealthy behaviours such as eating junk food, sleeping badly and not exercising, which are linked to heart problems.
The team analysed the results of 34 studies involving 2,011,935 people to investigate whether shift work was associated with major vascular events.
Shift work was defined as evening shifts, irregular or unspecified shifts, mixed schedules, night shifts and rotating shifts, and the studies also contained day workers or the general population for comparison.
Altogether 17,359 had some kind of coronary event, 6,598 had heart attacks and 1,854 had ischemic strokes caused by lack of blood supply to the brain.
These events were more common among shift workers than other people.
Shift work was associated with a 23 per cent increased risk of heart attack, 24 per cent rise in coronary events and five percent extra strokes.
These risks remained consistent even after adjusting for factors such as study quality, socioeconomic status and unhealthy behaviours in shift workers.
However, shift work was not associated with increased death rates from any cause.
Daniel Hackam, Clinical Pharmacologist, Stroke Prevention & Atherosclerosis Research Centre (SPARC) said the relative risks might appear modest, but millions of people do shift work which means the overall risks are high.
"Shift workers should be educated about cardiovascular symptoms in an effort to forestall or avert the earliest clinical manifestations of disease," he was quoted by the paper as saying.
There has been mounting evidence that night shift working might boost cancer risk because of the disruption to the body clock and hormone production.
"It's a well-known fact that working irregular hours can be bad for our health. It disrupts the body clock and is often associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, all of which are risk factors for
stroke," Dr Peter Coleman, Stroke Association's Deputy Director of Research said.