Mental Exhaustion Increases Risk of Heart Disease

New research suggests psychological factors can elevate the risk of heart disease among healthy men and women by 36 percent.

Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers discovered fatigue, increased irritability, and feeling demoralized were associated with the increase in risk for first-time cardiovascular disease.
Clinically, the cluster of psychological symptoms is called vital exhaustion — a condition that appears to be growing in prevalence.

Researchers presented their findings at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2014 in Chicago.

“Our study shows vital exhaustion is an important risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease in otherwise healthy people,” says lead author Randy Cohen, M.D.

“Loss of vitality thus adds to a growing number of psychosocial risk factors that have now been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, including anxiety, depression, and social isolation.”

Study researchers investigated the relationship between vital exhaustion and first-time heart disease in 11 prospective studies that involved 60,610 people without heart disease. The studies had an average follow-up of 6.5 years.

“The identification of vital exhaustion as a coronary artery disease (CAD) risk factor appears timely,” says study co-author Alan Rozanski, M.D.

“As society becomes increasingly fast paced, there is an increasing tendency for people to overwork while cutting back on sleep, exercise, and the rest and relaxation we all need to renew ourselves and prevent the factors that cause vital exhaustion.”

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