Karoshi death is a term from Japan and describes a person dying from overwork. It was originally described in young adult Japanese males but it can occur to anyone subjected to certain circumstances at work.


Features of Karoshi death:

(1) recent history of excessive work or work-related pressures

(2) unexpected death, typically preceded by acute myocardial infarction or stroke


Risk factors associated with Karoshi death:

(1) high number of overtime hours (or total hours worked per week)

(2) working night shift

(3) working on holidays

(4) starting a new job with no family or social support

(5) signs and symptoms of burnout

(6) high level of stress (typically work-related but other sources of stress may be present)


The diagnosis is largely one of exclusion. It is important to exclude:

(1) premature coronary artery disease

(2) cardiac anomaly (affecting valve, coronary artery, conduction system, etc)

(3) stimulant abuse (cocaine, amphetamine, etc)

(4) malignant hypertension

(5) alcohol misuse

(6) cerebral aneurysm

(7) other causes of sudden death (asthma, anaphylaxis, seizure disorder)

(8) suicide

(9) toxic exposure


To read more or access our algorithms and calculators, please log in or register.