Effect of shift work on endothelial function in young cardiology trainees

Pierpaolo Tarzia, Maria Milo, Antonino Di Franco, Antonio Di Monaco, Alessandro Cosenza, Marianna Laurito, Gaetano Antonio Lanza, Filippo Crea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Long-term shift work (SW) is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD). Previous studies have shown that prolonged SW is associated with endothelial dysfunction, suggesting that this abnormality may contribute to the SW-related increase in cardiovascular risk. The immediate effect of SW on endothelial function in healthy subjects, however, is unknown. Design: We studied endothelial function and endothelium-independent function in 20 healthy specialty trainees in cardiology at our Institute, without any cardiovascular risk factor (27.3±1.9 years, nine males), at two different times: (1) after a working night (WN), and (2) after a restful night (RN). The two test sessions were performed in a random sequence. Methods: Endothelial function was assessed by measuring brachial artery dilation during post-ischaemic forearm hyperaemia (flow-mediated dilation, FMD). Endothelium-independent function in response to 25 μg of sublingual glyceryl trinitrate (nitrate-mediated dilation, NMD) was also assessed. Results: FMD was 8.02 ± 1.4% and 8.56 ± 1.7% after WN and RN, respectively (p = 0.025), whereas NMD was 10.5 ± 2.1% and 10.4 ± 2.0% after WN and RN, respectively (p = 0.48). The difference in FMD between WN and RN was not influenced by the numbers of hours slept during WN (4 hours) and by the duration of involvement of specialty trainees in nocturnal work (12 months). Conclusions: Our study shows that in healthy medical residents, without any cardiovascular risk factor, FMD is slightly impaired after WN compared to RN. Disruption of physiological circadian neuro-humoral rhythm is likely to be responsible for this adverse vascular effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-913
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Preventive Cardiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


  • cardiovascular risk
  • Endothelial function
  • shift work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Epidemiology


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