Millions of UK workers feel the pressures of their job are putting their heart health at risk, according to the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

As part of their Heart Month this February, the charity’s research found that stress in the workplace seems to have an indirect effect on the health of employees, leading people to eat poorly, drink and smoke more than they otherwise would and not get enough exercise. Two in five (41%) of workers reported that their job has had a negative impact on their health in the last five years.

Lisa Young, Project Manager for the BHF’s Health at Work programme, said: 

“This survey is a stark reminder of just what happens when we don’t take our health at work seriously enough. Millions of people say they are smoking more, exercising less and putting on weight because they’re not considering the impact their job is having on their health and wellbeing.

“Behaviours like these can be extremely damaging, not just to your heart health but also to businesses. From working with over with 9,500 organisations we know that the payoffs of making health at work a top businesses priority are too great to ignore.”

Productivity loss as a result of heart and circulatory conditions is estimated to cost businesses £8billion a year. However research shows of the vast majority of companies (82%) with employee wellness programmes see reduced sickness absence and a 15 percent increase in output.

The research, which was conducted by YouGov and surveyed 2096 UK adults, 1,384 of whom were workers, also found that three fifths (60%) of employees regularly do unpaid overtime, with almost two in ten (19%) working more than five hours overtime a week. The pressures of work are leaving employees concerned about their long-term health with almost a third (29%) fearing it could lead to high blood pressure and over one in five (21%) a heart attack or heart condition.

The BHF is now calling for employers to encourage their workforce to spend at least 10 minutes a day improving their lifestyle for the remainder of Heart Month.

Young added:

“Small steps can make a big difference to your health. This Heart Month we’re working with organisations across the UK to encourage employees to take 10 minutes every day to make positive changes which could have a life-long benefit to their health.”