- A new study found a link between extreme exhaustion and an irregular heartbeat type.
- Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, which affects at least 2.7 million Americans.
- New research found a link between severe depletion, also known as life depletion, and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
Feeling exhausted, irritable and dejected all the time, also known as exhaustion, is not good for your mental well-being. And when it happens at work, it’s not good for your career either.
A new study suggests that exhaustion can also cause damage to the heart that can lead to a potentially fatal irregular heartbeat.
Atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib or AF, is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, which affects at least 2.7 million Americans.
In addition to an irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation can cause symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath and fatigue. Atrial fibrillation can also increase your risk of stroke, even when symptoms are not present.
In the new study, published on January 13 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers found a link between severe depletion, also known as life depletion, and the risk of developing atrial fibrillation.
This study suggests that “exhaustion and poor coping abilities, along with symptoms of depression, can contribute to atrial fibrillation,” said Dr. David Friedman, director of Heart Failure Services at Northwell’s Long Island Jewish Valley Stream Health, in Long Island, New York, who was not involved in the study.
Life exhaustion is more than just depression.
The World Health Organization links exhaustion with “chronic stress in the workplace that has not been managed successfully.” It may appear as exhaustion, be cynical about work or feel less effective at work.
A recent Gallup survey found that about two-thirds of full-time workers experienced exhaustion at work, and almost a quarter felt exhausted “very often or always.”
Among doctors, exhaustion is equally high: around 67 percent.
However, the study’s author, Dr. Parveen Garg, associate professor of clinical medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, told CNN that exhaustion can be caused by any stressor, including stress personal or stress at home or in the family.
Dr. J Shah, a cardiologist in Boulder, Colorado, and author of “Heart Health: A Guide to the Tests and Treatments You Really Need,” said anger, anxiety and depression have been linked to disease development. coronary and congestive heart failure.
“But the impact on AF has not been established,” said Shah, who was not involved in the study.
Previous research on the link between AFib and mental health has been mixed.
In one study, young and middle-aged veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) had a higher risk of developing AFib.
Other study It suggests that it may be a two-way street: atrial fibrillation can cause depression and anxiety, but depression and anxiety can also create an environment in the heart that allows atrial fibrillation to start or get worse.
Dr. Matthew Budoff, a cardiologist at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in Torrance, California, who was not involved in the study, said it is not surprising that exhaustion can increase someone’s risk of atrial fibrillation.
“When patients are stressed, their adrenaline levels increase and that can lead to atrial fibrillation,” he said. However, he noted that the effect of exhaustion on AFib in the new study was “modest.”
In the new study, Garg and his colleagues followed more than 11,000 people for almost 25 years, looking for signs of vital exhaustion, anger, use of antidepressants and little social support.
The researchers found that people with the highest levels of life depletion had a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation during follow-up compared to those who did not have or had a low level of life depletion.
People who reported using antidepressants also had a higher risk of developing AFib, although this effect disappeared when researchers took into account other factors that may contribute to AFib.
No connection was seen between anger or poor social support and AFib.
The researchers found that 20.7 percent of the most depleted people developed AFib, while only 18.2 percent of the least depleted did.
Dr. Nicholas Skipitaris, director of cardiac electrophysiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the small difference between these two groups is not very “clinically significant.”
Especially since the most exhausted group was dealing with extreme exhaustion for several years.
“For people with an average amount of stress, if they don’t otherwise have a predisposition to atrial fibrillation, I don’t think stress causes them only atrial fibrillation,” Skipitaris said.
There are several other well-established risk factors for atrial fibrillation that can change, such as high blood pressure, heart disease and excessive alcohol consumption.
More research is needed to understand the relationship between exhaustion and atrial fibrillation.
But Friedman said that stress can activate the physiological response to stress in the body and cause the release of proinflammatory molecules. They can damage heart tissue, which could lead to the development of AFib.
Skipitaris said additional studies could analyze whether “the increase in inflammatory marker levels and the increase in stress somehow change the electrical system of the heart to cause it to have atrial fibrillation.”
Although the new study found a small effect of exhaustion on the risk of developing AFib, chronic stress can affect the body in other ways.
“People who run the risk of feeling chronically demoralized, dejected and with little ability to affect positive changes may be at a higher overall risk of cardiovascular disease,” Friedman said.
Therefore, even if your risk of atrial fibrillation is low, learning to eliminate or control stress is still a good thing.
“People need to find ways to relieve stress when they feel exhausted,” Budoff said, “either by exercise, other interests or, of course, by changing their environment.”
Shah also noted that while mental health can have a negative effect on your physical health, the other side is also true.
“Positive psychology interventions, such as increased gratitude and forgiveness, lead to an improvement in inflammatory markers and general cardiovascular health,” he said.