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Exhaustion can increase the risk of heart attack in men, study finds

Stress can be a significant factor when it comes to exhaustion

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Photo (c) Prasit photo - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the European Society of Cardiology found that exhaustion may increase the risk of men having a heart attack. They explained that many things can contribute to exhaustion, including feeling irritable or distant from social connections. When these issues are present, men are at a heightened risk of having a cardiovascular event. 

“Vital exhaustion refers to excessive fatigue, feelings of demoralization, and increased irritability,” said researcher Dr. Dmitry Panov. “It is thought to be a response to intractable problems in people’s lives, particularly when they are unable to adapt to prolonged exposure to psychological stressors.

“The relationship of exhaustion with threatening cardiovascular events should be taken into account when assessing risk,” he added. 

How exhaustion affects heart health

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 700 men involved in the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) MONICA Project. The participants ranged in age from 25 to 64 years old and had no history of heart issues when the study began. In addition to monitoring health outcomes, the participants completed the Maastricht Vital Exhaustion Questionnaire to determine what role that played in their heart health. 

The researchers noted a significant relationship between those who had the highest levels of vital exhaustion and those who eventually had heart attacks. Nearly 70 percent of the men had vital exhaustion, and they were nearly three times more likely to have a heart attack within five years than those without vital exhaustion. Similarly, exhaustion made a heart attack more than two times as likely within 14 years. 

The researchers also assessed the risk of heart attack after accounting for factors like education, marital status, and age. They learned that participants without a college degree were more prone to heart attacks as a result of exhaustion, as were men who were widowed and middle-aged men. 

While things like diet and exercise certainly play a role in consumers’ heart attack risk, the researchers hope these findings expand the scope of risk factors for heart-related concerns. 

“Efforts to improve well-being and reduce stress at home and at work can help reduce vital exhaustion,” said Dr. Panov. “Involvement in community groups is one way to increase social support and become less vulnerable to stress. Together with a healthy lifestyle, these measures should be beneficial for heart health.” 

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