Burnout is a real thing, folks, one only needs to look to the dark circles under my eyes proof of the matter. But despite the World Health Organisation recently acknowledging it as an official medical condition, little is known on the extent to which burnout can affect our physical and mental wellbeing – until now, that is.
A new study involving more than 11,000 people, has found a link between vital exhaustion (read: burnout) and heart health.
Researchers began by assessing vital exhaustion, anger, antidepressant use and social support levels among participants. They then followed the group over the course of two decades to see what the occurrence of atrial fibrillation was (aka, an irregular or rapid heartbeat.)
In the end, those with high levels of vital exhaustion were 20 per cent more likely to develop arterial fibrillation in comparison to those who scored lower on these levels. According to Dr Parveen K. Garg, one of the study’s authors, this is “typically caused by prolonged and profound stress at work or home.”
“Vital exhaustion is associated with increased inflammation and heightened activation of the body’s physiologic stress response,” he explained. “When these two things are chronically triggered, that can have serious and damaging effects on the heart tissue, which could then eventually lead to the development of this arrhythmia.”
Important to note: There were no significant associations between arterial fibrillation and the other psychological health measures (e.g. anger.) That said, more research needs to be done on the connection between sustained high levels of stress and heart health complications.
“The importance of avoiding exhaustion through careful attention to—and management of—personal stress levels as a way to help preserve overall cardiovascular health cannot be overstated,” Dr Garg concluded.