WHO-ILO Study: Long working hours increases deaths from heart disease and stroke

A study conducted by the World Health Organisation and the International Labour Organisation recently found that the long working hours kills hundreds of people every year.

Key findings of the study

  • Around 745,00 people died of stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016. This is 29% higher than that of 2000.
  • Around 347,000 people died of heart disease and 398,000 people died of stroke in 2016. The diseases killed these people mainly because they worked at least 55 hours a week.
  • Between 2000 and 2016, the number of heart diseases due to long working hours increased by 42%. Also, the number of strokes increased by 19%.
  • Working 55 hours a week increased risks of strokes by 35% and increased the risk of ischemic heart disease by 35%.
  • In 2016, around 488 million people were exposed to long working hours, that is, working 55 hours a week.

Disease Burden

The work-related disease burden was high in men as compared to that of women. Around 72% of the work-related disease and eventual death occurred in men.

Also, such disease burden was high in people living in the Western Pacific, that is, those in South Korea, China, Japan and Australia and also other South East Asian countries.


The study has included 22 studies on stokes and 37 studies on ischemic heart diseases. Also, it collected data from more than 2,300 surveys in 154 countries.

What is worrying?

The study did not include COVID-19 period. It comes at a time when the number of working hours is increasing. Currently, the number of people working long hours stands at 9% of the total population. This will increase if COVID-19 impacts are added.




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