The average participant was about 33 years old, and just over half of them were men. 51% of the employees smoked, 10% had high blood pressure, and 49% had high cholesterol levels.
According to the study, about 20% of the employees had a high risk for heart disease. As for sleep, around 40% of them slept for 6 hours or less, so they had a short sleep duration.
The average circadian misalignment was determined to be as follows:
- 59% of participants – misalignment by about 2 hours
- 33% of participants – misalignment from 2-4 hours
- 8% of participants – misalignment of 4 hours or more
Higher Risk of Heart Disease
The study found that the employees with larger circadian misalignments had a much higher risk of developing heart disease.
Each hour that the body was off its natural biological clock can increase the risk for heart disease by 31%. That percentage stayed the same even when the researchers adjusted the estimation based on BMI, lifestyle, occupational habits, etc.
Therefore, the researchers concluded that employees who had atypical work schedules likely need to be monitored for their heart health. The researchers also stated that further research would be necessary to see if owls would be better suited for late night shifts, and vice versa.
Overall, there is a great link between the circadian rhythm and heart health. Even when other factors are taken into consideration (smoking, work habits, etc.), the risk for heart disease stays the same.
Learn more about Other Cardiovascular Issues here.