Does Regularly Staying Late at the Office Increase the Chance of Stroke?
Photo: Flazingo Photos: /CC

Does Regularly Staying Late at the Office Increase the Chance of Stroke?

A study released this year in the Lancet Medical Journal has come to the conclusion that working extra hours at the office pushes up the risk of stroke by up to 33 per cent.

The study, conducted by University College London. Is based on the health records of more than 500,000 people across Europe, the US and Australia.

Researchers believe that the extra risk factor is less to do with just working longer hours, and more with the behavioural and lifestyle habits of those people: people who work significantly longer hours tend to move less, have a more sedentary lifestyle, and drink more than those that work more regular hours.

The study was actually a study of studies; it looked at the combined result of 17 previous studies, in which 529,000 people were tracked over an average of seven years.

It found that those who worked more than 15 hours a week above the average were 33 per cent more likely to fall victim of a stroke.

The authors wrote in the Lancet - ‘Behavioural mechanisms, such as physical inactivity, might also link long working hours and stroke; a hypothesis supported by evidence of an increased risk of incident stroke in individuals who sit for long periods at work.’

Act F.A.S.T. to Prevent a Stroke

The government has recently ran a TV campaign to advertise a method for recognising and dealing with a stroke. It comes under the acronym FAST:

F – Face – has one side of the face dropped? Can they smile?
A – Arms – Can they raise both arms and keep them there?
S – Speech – Is their speech slurred?
T – Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs

“When Stroke strikes act FAST”

Stroke and Health Insurance – Is it covered?

It does vary from insurer to insurer, but generally, yes – stroke is covered by private medical insurance (but it’s a bit complicated). There are a few points to consider:
  • If you have a history of strokes, or in any way have it as a pre-existing condition before you purchase PMI, you won’t be covered (standard PMI policy – across the insurers)
  • If you have a stroke after you take out a PMI policy and have no history of strokes, you will be covered – for certain aspects of the condition
  • Typically strokes, when they happen, involve an initial stay in A and E in hospital – this will always be in an NHS hospital as there are no private emergency departments in the UK currently
  • Therefore initial treatment, consultation and diagnosis is not covered, as this is done in an NHS emergency context, but perhaps the key element is covered privately – rehabilitation. This can be a longer process as the person recovers from a stroke
  • There are often long waiting lists on the NHS for rehabilitation therapies on the NHS (according to the Stroke Association), which is one reason people choose private cover for the possibility of a stroke.
  • Such therapies covered by the insurers for private patients include physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and clinical psychology.
  • The British Stroke Association recommends that private therapies and NHS therapies should work together and that it is "helpful for all health professionals providing your care to be aware of each other, so they can make sure your treatments are consistent."