Question: Should I avoid shift work after a heart attack?
Answer: Some people with heart disease, or their families, may have noticed a lot of news in the last several years about risk of heart attack at different times of day and under different conditions of work. And I believe that most of us in cardiology think that there is a slightly increased risk of a heart attack in people who are working difficult shifts that they're not accustomed to working. In addition, we know that people who work normal shifts are at an increased risk of heart attacks in the early morning hours, just as there's an increased risk of stroke during this early morning time period. This is part of the variation and hormones that we all have as a part of everyday life that occur on a cyclical basis during the course of the day.
But in no way should this be interpreted that if you enjoy working a night shift, or that's a critical thing to your job and you like your job, that you should avoid it at all costs. In fact, if you're in the routine of working shift work, and you're very comfortable with it, and you feel good before and after you work, then we would recommend that you stick with that routine. On the other hand, if shift work is spotty, you're uncomfortable with it, you feel extremely fatigued at the end of the work place, then this should really be taken up with your cardiologist, and a different approach should be taken. So there's not one single answer to the question about shift work, but when one does work in regular shifts, it's very important if you have heart disease, to discuss it with your doctor and do what's best for you given the particular circumstances.