Ambulance services are taking care of a man who suffered a stroke in Madrid, Spain.

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According to a study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization, hundreds of thousands of people around the world die each year from long hours.

In a joint study by global health and employment organizations, the WHO and the ILO estimated that 745,000 people died of stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016, an increase of 29% since 2000.

The study, published Monday in Environment International magazine, was an initial global analysis of the loss of life and health associated with long hours.

The WHO and ILO estimated that 398,000 people died of stroke and 347,000 of heart disease in 2016 for working at least 55 hours a week. Between 2000 and 2016, deaths from heart disease due to long hours increased by 42% and due to stroke increased by 19%.

The study concluded that 55 hours or more per week is associated with an estimated 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease than 35 to 40 hours per week. In 2016, 488 million people worldwide were exposed to long working hours of more than 55 hours a week, estimates the WHO and the ILO.

The “work-related disease burden” was particularly significant in men (72% of male deaths) and people living in the Western Pacific (including the WHO including China, South Korea, Australia and Japan). and regions in Southeast Asia as well as middle-aged or older workers, the WHO said on Monday.

“Most deaths have been recorded in people aged 60 to 79 who worked 55 hours or more a week between 45 and 74 years of age,” the organization added.

“Since it is known that long working hours are responsible for about a third of the total estimated work-related disease burden, this is considered to be the risk factor with the greatest burden of occupational diseases.”

The WHO-ILO study comprised the analysis of 37 studies on ischemic heart disease and 22 studies on stroke, as well as data from more than 2,300 surveys conducted in 154 countries from 1970 to 2018.

Worrying trend

Although the study did not cover the period of the pandemic, the results come at a time when the number of people working long hours is increasing and currently accounts for 9% of the total population worldwide, the WHO said, adding, “This trend presupposes Even more people are at risk of work-related disabilities and premature death. “

The coronavirus pandemic has also put more emphasis on working hours. The WHO warns that the pandemic is accelerating developments that could encourage the trend towards longer working hours.

The WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, noted that the pandemic “has significantly changed the way many people work”.

“Teleworking has become the norm in many industries, often blurring the lines between home and work. Additionally, many companies have been forced to downsize or cease operations to save money, and people who are still on payroll are working on End longer hours. No job is worth the risk of stroke or heart disease. Governments, employers and workers must work together to agree limits to protect the health of workers, “he said.

WHO recommended that governments “put in place, implement and enforce laws, regulations and guidelines that prohibit compulsory overtime and ensure maximum working time limits,” and suggested that employees could split working hours to ensure that the number of hours worked did not over 55 or more per hour increases week.