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Monday morning bad for your health

Research has shown a 20 percent spike in the number of heart attacks on a Monday.
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(CNN) -- Monday mornings could seriously damage your health, according to new research.

A study carried out by Japan's Tokyo Women's Medical University and published in the American Journal of Hypertension showed that many workers suffer a significant increase in blood pressure as they return to the office after the weekend.

High blood pressure is associated with a greater risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke, and the results could help to explain why there are more heart attacks on Mondays than at any other time of the week.

Research published several years ago in the British Medical Journal showed a 20 percent spike in heart attacks at the beginning of the week.

In the latest study, 175 men and women were fitted with devices to measure fluctuations in their blood pressure over the course of a week. The results showed a surge among those getting ready for work on Monday morning.

Volunteers who were not going to work didn't experience a comparable increase, suggesting a link between increased blood pressure and work-related stress.

"Most people are free of the mental and physical burdens of work on a Sunday and experience a more stressful change from weekend leisure activities to work activities on Mondays," said Dr Shuogo Murakami, who led the research.

High blood pressure could also be caused by the stress of commuting. British psychologist Dr David Lewis recently showed that commuters suffered higher levels of stress than fighter pilots during their journey to work, with many recording increased heart rates at levels more usually associated with vigorous exercise.

Belinda Linden, Head of Medical Information at the British Heart Foundation, said a morning peak in blood pressure and the fact that more heart attacks occurred on Monday than on any other day of the week were both recognized by researchers. But she added that "larger and better controlled studies" were needed to establish the cause of the trends.

"This relatively small study looks at the weekly variations of blood pressure, and has found that Monday morning provides the highest peak," said Linden.

"Although it is tempting to try and explain these findings, and to assume that the return to work is a factor, the constraints of this study mean we cannot be sure of the causes of this variation."

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