Americans work hard. For many, this is a source of pride and accomplishment. But working long hours habitually could put your health at risk. A study published in AHA Journals in June 2019 shows that working 10 hours or more per day could increase your risk of a stroke. A stroke is when blood a vessel bursts in the brain or when blood flow is blocked to a part of the brain. This can cause immediate damage, which can lead to lasting damage, and it can even kill you.

How Long Is Too Long?

I’m not talking about working 10-hour days every day. Your risk of stroke increases by almost 30% after working 10-hour days for only 50 days out of the year. So if this is something you’ve been doing for years, your stroke risk has jumped to 45%.

You might be thinking you’re too young to have a stroke, so you can work your long days now and slow down as you age. Well, the risk of stroke from working long hours is counterintuitive. It’s actually higher is you’re under the age of 50. I know this all too well. After my beloved father had a stroke, life as we knew it changes. And not just for him, it changed for my entire family.

Can Strokes Be Prevented?

The short answer is: yes. Up to 80% of strokes are, in fact, preventable. And here are some steps to take to lower your changes of having one:

  1. Blood Pressure – know your numbers and keep your blood pressure under control. High blood pressure could double or even quadruple your risk of stroke.
  2. Quit Smoking – smoking can speed up clot formation and increase your risk of stroke.
  3. Watch Your Weight – lose extra pounds if you need to and maintain an ideal weight. Every extra pound you keep off can have a positive impact.
  4. Check Your Heart – an irregular heartbeat called Atrial Fibrillation can put you at 5x the risk of stroke.

And, of course, the best way to prevent strokes is with a healthy lifestyle: be active, drink alcohol in moderation, sleep well, and eat a healthy diet. Try your best to work by the philosophy ‘smarter, not harder’. Work as efficiently as you can and get done earlier whenever possible. A positive work-life balance will do you wonders.

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