Working the night shift may increase risk of heart disease

Nurse Leader Insider, May 5, 2016

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Working rotating night shifts as a nurse can be difficult for many reason. Your schedule is inconsistent, your sleep pattern gets interrupted, and it can make managing your time a hassle. In addition to the regular inconveniences, recent research suggests that rotating night shifts can have negative health impacts, including diabetes and even cancer.

Now, we can add heart disease to that list. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) released a study last week that researched the health of women that worked as night shift nurses compared to nurses that didn’t work night shifts over a 24-year period. They found that night nurses were 15% more likely to have coronary heart disease (CHD) than their daytime counterparts. Further, the study found that women who started the study in their late thirties and worked night shifts for 10 years or longer had a 27% increased risk of CHD.

Additionally, the study observed that working night shifts had other deleterious effects on women’s lives. They were more likely to gain weight, smoke, and overuse painkillers. Their social lives were different as well, as the researchers found that they were married to less-educated men then daytime workers, and they were less likely to have children. 

The group called for additional research on the topic, telling NBC News: "Given that shift work may affect both sleep and social support, further research in populations with more extensive information on sleep duration, quality, and timing as well as work hours seems warranted."

For tips on staying healthy, check out our Leaders’ Lounge blog.

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