(CBSDFW.COM) – A new global study shows working long hours is a serious health hazard that kills hundreds of thousands of people each year.

The World Health Organization says its findings should be a wake-up call to governments, businesses and employees.

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According to the WHO study, people working 55 hours or more each week have a 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease.

The total number of deaths from both conditions has increased 29% since 2000.

“I was not too surprised honestly because in the cardiovascular field, we know that stress is a risk factor for heart disease, and heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women here in the United States,” said Dr. Fahmi Farah, a cardiologist at Bentley Heart.

The study doesn’t cover the past year, when COVID-19 sent economies into crisis and changed how millions of people work.

With the pandemic blurring the lines between the office and home, it’s likely this trend won’t get any better.

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“Most people I’m talking to are working much more than they were before,” said Dr. Michael Sills, a cardiologist at Baylor Scott & White Heart and Vascular Hospital. “Some of that’s the evolution of the more digital world, but I think COVID has made that worse in so many ways.”

Doctors say if you can’t cut back on your work hours, it’s important to prioritize eating well, exercising and getting a solid night’s sleep.

“It’s not just working too much,” Dr. Sills said. “It’s when work takes you away from being healthy.”

Businesses should take responsibility for their role in the problem too.

“There’s also a lesson to be learned from this for employers to do everything they can to make the workplace a healthier place for their employees,” Dr. Farah said.

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The study also found work-related disease is most prevalent in men and in workers who are middle-age or older.

Caroline Vandergriff