Heart and circulatory diseases are among the biggest causes of death in the UK, accounting for around 160,000 fatalities every year.
And of these, coronary heart disease, also known as ischaemic heart disease, is the most common type.
It can go on to cause heart attacks and heart failure if not treated.
The disease is usually caused by a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricting blood flow to the heart.
There are a number of factors that can raise your risk of this occurring including if you smoke, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, and if you don’t exercise enough.
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Research has also suggested that stress can increase your chances of heart problems.
But now a study has shown that whether or not you work can affect your likelihood of developing heart disease.
A team from Kyoto University in Japan and other researchers found that retired people have a lower risk of developing heart disease than working people.
In their paper, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, they revealed that the risk of developing heart disease was 2.2 percentage points lower for retired people than for working people.
As part of the research, the team monitored 106,922 people aged in their 50s to 70s.
Participants from parts of Europe, Japan and North America, were followed from the 1990s, for an average of almost seven years.
The study also showed that the proportion of people who did not get enough exercise was three percentage points higher among working people than retired people.
Among these sedentary workers, the rates of heart disease, obesity and physical inactivity reduced after retirement.
Meanwhile, people who mainly engaged in physical labour tended to become obese after retirement, raising their risk for various health conditions.
Koryu Sato, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Medicine, explained that the link between retirement and the reduced risk of heart disease could be due to exercising more.
“For people who continue to work, it’s important to consciously make time to exercise,” Mr Sato said in the Japan Times.
The team warned that any plans by governments to raise the state pension age could be detrimental to people’s health as a result.
In the study they said: “This novel study suggests that retirement was associated with a decreased heart disease risk on average.
“Some associations of retirement with cardiovascular disease and risk factors appeared heterogeneous by individual characteristics.
“Policy makers need to consider the benefits of raising state pension age and allowing older people to continue working versus the costs from the potential risk of expensive medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease.”
Currently it is planned the state pension age in the UK will rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028.