How Working Too Much Can Actually Kill You

From TIME - October 6, 2017

A 31-year-old woman in Japan who put in more than 150 hours of overtime in a month died of congestive heart failure after working too much, her employer announced this week.

Miwa Sado was a journalist for Japan's national public broadcasting organization, NHK, when she died in her home in July 2013, the news outlet said in a statement. Labor authorities later determined Sados death was due to overwork," according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. She had punched in about 159 hours of overtime in the month before her death, NHK said.

High levels of stress can make the heart work harder than it normally doeswhich, under very rare circumstances, experts say, could potentially lead to death. Heres what to know about death from overwork.

What does stress do to the heart?

Stress affects everyone differently. But two types of emotional stress can impact the heart, according to Dr. Alan Yeung, the medical director at Stanford Cardiovascular Health. Acute stress usually occurs suddenly after a traumatic event, like a car crash or an earthquake, while chronic stress builds up over time. Unhealthy behaviors, like eating poorly or not exercising, are also linked to chronic stress from working long hours, and these can cause an increase in blood pressure or cholesterol, Yeung said. When a person faces high levels of either kind of stress, their heart rate and blood pressure may increase.

How likely is it to die from working too much?

How can it be prevented?


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