"All women should manage their weight and other risk factors, and this study shows women working shift work especially need to be aware," said Heart and Stroke Foundation spokesperson Dr. Beth Abramson. "We spend so many of our hours and days at work, it is important for employers and employees to create as healthy a work environment as possible - especially for shift workers."
She says that, given the prevalence of these cardiovascular risk factors, and in particular with abdominal obesity rates and the increasing age of the female hospital workforce, this study raises the need to examine workplace policy encouraging healthy behaviours for all employees.
She recommends that women find out how they can protect their heart health through the Foundation's The Heart Truth- campaign (thehearttruth), which educates women about identifying their risks and warning signs of heart disease and stroke, and shows them how to make lifestyle changes and take action to reduce their risk by as much as 80 per cent.
"These women work so hard caring for others, but they need to take the time to properly care of their own health," says Dr. Tranmer.
According to Statistics Canada, over 4 million workers aged 19 to 64 worked something other than a regular day shift in 2005. Of these shift workers, about 3.3 million worked full time (30 or more hours a week). Rotating shifts and irregular schedules were the most common types of shift work, accounting for 2.3 million full-time workers. Women made up 37 per cent of all full-time shift workers. The majority of women working shifts (69 per cent) worked part time.
When asked if similar conclusions could be drawn for male shift workers, Dr. Tranmer said that much of our understanding about the associations between shift work and health come from studies that have predominantly included men so she wanted to focus on the link in women.
Source: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada