A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology has found that if you’re experiencing deep mental and physical exhaustion, you may be at a higher risk of having a deadly heart rhythm disturbance.
According to Science Focus, the syndrome known as vital exhaustion, leaves sufferers feeling excessively tired, devoid of energy, demoralised and irritable and could possibly leave one at risk for a fatal heart flutter.
“Vital exhaustion, commonly referred to as burnout syndrome is typically caused by prolonged and profound stress at work or home,” says Dr Parveen Garg, author of the study.
“It differs from depression, which is characterised by low mood, guilt, and poor self-esteem. The results of our study further establishes the harm that can be caused in people who suffer from exhaustion that goes unchecked.”
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disorder and the leading cause of strokes in Europe and the United States.
It affects more than 33 million people worldwide.
Many sufferers experience chest pains, palpitations, shortness of breath and fatigue, while for some the condition is symptomless making it a potentially silent killer.
The causes of AF aren’t fully understood, reports Science Daily.
Psychological distress has been suggested as a risk factor for the condition but until now the association between vital exhaustion and AF hasn’t been evaluated.
The study surveyed more than 11 000 people for the presence of vital exhaustion, anger, antidepressant use and poor social support. The participants were then monitored over nearly 25 years for the development of AF.
The research revealed that participants with the highest level of vital exhaustion were at a 20% higher risk of developing AF over the course of follow-up compared to those with little to no evidence of vital exhaustion.
“Vital exhaustion is associated with increased inflammation and increased activation of the body’s physiologic stress response,” Dr Garg says.
“When these two things are chronically activated that can have serious and damaging effects on the heart tissue, which could then eventually lead to the development of this arrhythmia (irregular heart beat).”
Dr Garg suggests that more research is required but that it’s important for people to reduce high levels of stress and exhaustion as it could impact one’s heart negatively.