What is a stroke?
Strokes are a life-threatening medical emergency which happen when part of the brain loses its blood supply.
Urgent action is essential because the sooner you get treatment, the less damage you are likely to suffer.
In 85% of cases, strokes are due to a blood clot. The other common cause is a haemorrhage, where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts.
Remember the word FAST: Face-Arms-Speech-Time.
The face may drop to one side. The person may not be able to lift both arms. Speech may be slurred. If so, it is time to call 999.
Slaving 55 hours a week raises risk of blood clot by a third and of heart disease by 13%
ALSO READ: When your heart hurts and breaks, literally
Working long hours can greatly increase your risk of suffering a stroke – with 55 hours putting you in the danger zone.
Experts found those with a weekly work tally of that or higher were 33% more likely to have an attack than those clocking up the standard 40 hours.
They were also at a 13% increased risk of having heart disease.
The research project, the largest of its kind, looked at the results of 25 studies involving more than 600,000 people from America, Australia and Europe.
Lead author Professor Mika Kivimaki, of University College London, said: “The pooling of all available studies on this topic allowed us to investigate the association between working hours and cardiovascular disease risk with greater precision than has previously been possible.
“Health ¬professionals should be aware that working long hours is associated with a significantly increased risk of stroke, and perhaps also coronary heart disease.”
More than 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK every year and it is one of the country’s biggest killers.
It is unclear why working long hours is such a risk factor. But the study authors suggest it could be down to increased stress, along with associated unhealthy behaviour like drinking too much alcohol and failing to exercise.
The British Heart Foundation’s Dr Mike Knapton said: “More research is needed if we are to understand and treat the ¬biological mechanisms that can lead to increased risk of stroke and heart disease for people who work long hours.
“Doctors need to pay particular attention to ¬cardiovascular risk factors when they advise people who work long hours.”
Dr Tim Chico, a cardiovascular medicine expert at the University of Sheffield, added: “For many people, reducing their working hours would be difficult or impossible.
“Most of us could reduce the amount of time we spend sitting down, increase our physical activity and improve our diet while working and this might be more important the more time we spend at work.
“We should all consider how the working environment could be altered to promote healthy behaviour that will reduce strokes, irrespective of how long we work.”
The findings are published in medical journal The Lancet.