24-hour shifts interfere with heart function

accreditation
24-hour shift – iStock
24-hour shift – iStock

Sleep deprivation while working 24-hour shifts affects heart function, a new German study suggests.

Three hours of sleep

"These findings may help us better understand how workload and shift duration affect public health," said lead researcher Dr Daniel Kuetting, from the department of diagnostic and interventional radiology at the University of Bonn.

"For the first time, we have shown that short-term sleep deprivation in the context of 24-hour shifts can lead to a significant increase in cardiac contractility [the degree to which heart muscle contracts], blood pressure and heart rate," Kuetting said.

Read: How long has your doctor been on duty?

The study included 20 healthy radiologists with an average age of nearly 32 years. The participants' heart function was checked before and after a 24-hour shift in which they got an average of three hours of sleep.

After the shift, the participants showed significant changes in blood pressure and heart rate, along with significant increases in levels of certain hormones. One of these hormones, cortisol, is released by the body in response to stress.

Long-term effects of sleep loss

It's common for people in fire and emergency medical services, medical residencies and other high-stress jobs to work 24-hour shifts with little opportunity for sleep. But, according to the researchers behind the new study, this is the first study to examine how a 24-hour shift affects heart function.

Read: Sleep deprivation tied to anxiety

The study was scheduled for presentation at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago. Research presented at meetings is viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Further research with a larger group of participants is needed to assess the long-term effects of sleep loss on heart function, Kuetting said in a society news release.

He also said the findings likely apply to other professions in which people work long stretches without sleep.

Read more:

Shift work shock

Poor sleep affects immune system

How sleep loss affects health

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 1303 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
51% - 6432 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
36% - 4520 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 437 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.25
+0.0%
Rand - Pound
19.80
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
16.77
+0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.57
-0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+0.1%
Gold
1,790.81
+0.1%
Silver
20.37
+0.3%
Palladium
2,272.87
-0.8%
Platinum
958.72
-0.2%
Brent Crude
99.60
+2.2%
Top 40
64,617
0.0%
All Share
71,265
0.0%
Resource 10
65,851
0.0%
Industrial 25
87,063
0.0%
Financial 15
15,964
0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE