Frequent Business Travel Tough on the Heart, Study Finds

People on the go 20 or more days per month had more cardiovascular risk factors

MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- American workers forced to travel often on business aren't doing their hearts any favor, a new study suggests.

A team of U.S. researchers found that people who travel for business 20 days or more per month are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease than "light" travelers who were on the go only a few days per month.

The team at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health analyzed the medical records of more than 13,000 people in a corporate wellness program. Nearly 80 percent of them were away from home overnight at least once a month and 1 percent were away from home nearly 20 days a month.

Compared to "light" travelers (who traveled 1 to 6 days a month) those who traveled 20 or more days a month had a higher body mass index (27.5 vs. about 26); a lower level of "good" high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol; and higher diastolic blood pressure (76.2 vs. 74.6 mmHG). Diastolic pressure is the bottom number in a blood pressure reading.

Frequent travelers were also almost three times more likely to rate their health as being only "poor" to "fair," compared to people who were traveling less often.

The study appears online in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The researchers noted that cars are used for 81 percent of business travel in the United States, leading to long hours of sitting and a high likelihood of eating unhealthy foods.

"Should further research substantiate a link between business travel and obesity and other chronic disease health outcomes, there are several possibilities for workplace interventions. Employee education programs and strategies to improve diet and activity while traveling are a simple start," senior author Andrew G. Rundle, an associate professor of epidemiology, said in a Mailman news release.

More information

There's more on keeping your heart healthy at the American Heart Association.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, news release, April 29, 2011

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