Older Shift Workers at Risk for High Blood Pressure

But risk of sleep-disordered breathing is the same for shift and day workers

WEDNESDAY, April 19 (HealthDay News) -- Shift workers have a higher risk of developing hypertension associated with sleep-disordered breathing after age 40 than day workers, according to a study of Japanese nuclear power plant workers published in the April issue of the American Journal of Hypertension.

Takeshi Tanigawa, Ph.D., of the University of Tsukuba in Japan, and colleagues examined sleep-disordered breathing (defined as the 3 percent oxygen desaturation index) and blood pressure in 253 male shift workers and 206 male day workers aged 30 to 62 who worked in nuclear power plants.

The researchers found that 11.3 percent of workers had 10 or more sleep-disordered breathing episodes a night and 6.1 percent had 15 or more per night, with no difference between shift and day workers. After adjusting for a number of factors, the 3 percent oxygen desaturated index was correlated with both diastolic and systolic blood pressure in all workers, but the relationship was seen mainly in shift workers aged 40 or older.

The finding "suggests the importance of screening for sleep-disordered breathing among shift workers for blood pressure control," the authors write. In an editorial, Barbara Anne Phillips, Ph.D., of the University of Kentucky Schools of Medicine and Public Health in Lexington, notes that "shift workers pay a price, and that price definitely increases after the watershed age of 40 years."

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Clare Kittredge

Clare Kittredge

Updated on April 19, 2006

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