Workers who can’t relax face heart disease risk

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: October 23rd, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

People often joke that the weekend never lasts long enough.

But if a two-day break doesn’t leave you rested and refreshed, you may be headed for heart trouble.

That’s the conclusion of a twenty-eight-year study from Finland, published recently in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

Researchers tracked almost eight-hundred factory employees, ranging from foundry workers to engineers to clerks.

When the study began in 1973, the volunteers were assessed for their background, heart-disease risk factors and psychological makeup.

They were also asked whether a weekend gave them enough time to recover from work. The five response options ranged from “almost always” to “hardly ever.”

For almost three decades, mortality data on the volunteers was collected by a Finnish statistics office. The deaths were classified in two groups, depending on whether they involved cardiovascular disease.

About one-hundred-seventy volunteers died during the study, forty percent of them from cardiovascular causes.

The researchers cross-referenced death statistics with the answers deceased volunteers gave about their weekends.

Those who said they “seldom” or “hardly ever” recovered from work were more than two-and-a-half times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease as those who said they “almost always” recovered.

The scientists acknowledged that in some cases perpetual fatigue may have actually been a SYMPTOM of cardiovascular disease, not a cause. But they said the long follow-up period minimized this possibility.

Unlike some medical studies, this one holds a lesson for everyone… it’s important to make time for fun. Who knows, your life may depend on it.