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September 1, 2022

Shift workers with high blood pressure are at greater risk of diabetes

According to China-based researchers, people with high blood pressure (hypertension) who work night shifts are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

People who slept too little or too much when they were not working were at the highest risk of developing a second cardiometabolic condition.

The study used the UK Biobank data of36,939 participants to investigate the association between shift work and the increased risk of a single cardiometabolic condition (in this case, hypertension) developing into cardiometabolic multimorbidity, which the researchers define as having hypertension alongside diabetes, coronary heart disease or stroke.

"Since shift work is increasingly common and hypertension is a leading risk factor for cardiometabolic multimorbidity, it is crucial to clarify the association between shift work and cardiometabolic multimorbidity risks," said the study's senior author Dr Yongping Bai, an associate professor in the department of geriatric medicine at Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in Changsha, China.

Participants were invited to the study between 2006 and 2010 and were 40 to 69 years old. Those involved were then followed for an average of almost 12 years. They were asked to complete a questionnaire about their shift patterns, with shift work classed as anything falling outside the typical 9 to 5 schedule.

Those with high blood pressure who said they frequently or always worked night shifts had a 16% higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke than those who worked standard daytime hours.

Additionally, compared to those who worked day shifts, individuals working an average of one to ten night shifts per month had a 14% higher risk of developing a secondary metabolic condition. The risk was highest at 19% for those who worked over 10 night shifts each month.

The chances of developing further cardiometabolic conditions alongside hypertension were high, regardless of whether the night shift workers had the same seven to eight hours of sleep as those working daytime hours. Less than seven or more than eight hours of sleep also increased the risk of cardiometabolic multimorbidity.

This study was originally published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.





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