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70-hr work per week: Docs point out risk of heart attack, stress, autistic kids

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New Delhi: Amid Infosys founder Narayana Murthy’s advice to youngsters in India, urging them to work 70 hours a week, several doctors across the country informed that it may raise the risk of heart attack, stress, anxiety, back pain among others.

During a podcast, Murthy had said that if India wants to compete with developed economies that have made remarkable progress in recent decades, youngsters should work for 70 hours a week.

Dr. Deepak Krishnamurthy, a Bengaluru-based cardiologist broke down the amount of time spent by an average professional dividing the day between work and other commitments.

“24 hours per day (as far as I know). If you work 6 days a week-12-hour per day, remaining 12-hour – 8 hours sleep, 4 hours remain. In a city like Bengaluru 2 hours on road, 2 hours remain – Brush, poop, bathe, eat,” Krishnamurthy posted on X (formerly Twitter).

He said this will leave “no time to socialise, no time to talk to family, no time to exercise, no time for recreation, not to mention companies expect people to answer emails and calls after work hours also.

“Then wonder why young people are getting #Heartattacks?!”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), long working hours beyond 55 per week result in 35 per cent higher risk of stroke and 17 per cent higher risk of heart disease, compared to working 35-40 hours a week.

The WHO and the International Labour Organization, in a paper published in Environment International in 2021, showed that long working hours led to 745, 000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016, a 29 per cent increase since 2000.

“70-hour workweek cannot be a norm or even a recommendation,” wrote Dr Ambrish Mithal, Chairman, Endocrinology and Diabetes, Max HealthCare, on X.

While, “mandatory or expected work hours would be approx. 48-hour per week,” he said that to achieve success many people in their youth have spent 70 hours per week. However, he said “it cannot be made mandatory”.

Dr. Maninee, a paediatrician, said, long working hours can cause tensions in the family and lead to autism in children.

“It is because of toxic work culture and extended working hours, families are suffering. No wonder why we are seeing so many autistic kids these days because parents are not able to find time to interact with their kids,” Dr. Maninee posted on X.

“Say no to 70 hours a week”.

Another doctor, Dr Sidharth Unnithan, a sports medicine physician, calls 70 hours work per week “ridiculous”.

“It means 5 days, almost 12 hours per day that means from 9 to 9. Well my wife who is a psychiatrist will have a field day with increasing cases of anxiety, stress and me with back pain, tennis elbow”.

Some doctors also said that working long hours should not be forced, rather must be free-will.

“You can work 70 hours a week, if you work for yourself. The hustle will eventually pay off. You get to keep the fruits of your labour. You get wealthy. What is dumb is to work 70 hours for someone else’s next billion, in a soul crushing job. Especially if the pay is peanuts,” said Karthik Balachandran, #Endocrinologist at SRMC, Chennai.

“If someone forces you to work that hard, the results may be catastrophic, but if the force is from within, the health may not suffer that much. Youth these days are working more because of external pressures. So, if you work beyond 70 hours per week because Mr. Murthy told you, you will suffer,” Dr. Mukharjee Madivada, interventional cardiologist, at Pulse Heart Charitable Trust, said.

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