Men with vital exhaustion are more likely to suffer a heart attack, according to a new European study. Vital exhaustion refers to excessive fatigue, feelings of demoralization, and increased irritability.
“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,” Dr. Dmitriy Panov of the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Novosibirsk, Russia said in a press release.
The findings were presented this weekend at the ESC Acute CardioVascular Care 2021 -- an online scientific congress of the European Society of Cardiology.
The increased risk of heart attack was especially noticeable in divorced and widowed men, as well as those who never married, according to the researchers.
Panov explained this might be the case because, “living alone indicates less social support, which we know from our prior studies is an independent risk factor for myocardial infarction and stroke."
The study involved data from approximately 650 men aged 25 to 64 years who enrolled in an international collaborative project through the World Health Organization. Participants were assessed and classified based on their level of exhaustion -- from none, moderate and high -- and then, followed up on for 14 years.
When compared to men without any excessive fatigue, men with moderate or high levels of fatigue had a nearly three-times greater risk of a heart attack within five years. Those same men had approximately a two-fold risk both 10 and 14 years later.
Researchers found that overall, two out of three men had vital exhaustion, with about half of them having at least moderate levels of excessive fatigue. They also found signs of vital exhaustion for three out of four men with high blood pressure.
Because of the potentially deadly risk of a heart attack, Panov urged more focus on mitigating the factors that contribute to excessive exhaustion.
"Efforts to improve well-being and reduce stress at home and at work can help reduce vital exhaustion. 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,” he said.