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Single men with ‘vital exhaustion’ at high risk of heart attack

Single men suffering from ‘vital exhaustion’ are more likely to have a heart attack, according to new research.

The study, carried out by the Institute of Cytology and Genetics, Novosibirsk, Russian Federation, said males who have never married, are divorced or widowed are at greater risk.

Study author Dr Dmitriy Panov said: “Vital exhaustion refers to excessive fatigue, feelings of demoralisation 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.”

When comparing men with moderate or high levels of vital exhaustion, to those without, they had a 2.7-fold greater risk of a heart attack within five years, a 2.25 higher risk within 10 years, and a 2.1 raised risk within 14 years.

The trial involved looking at the relationship between vital exhaustion and heart attack patterns among more than 650 men, aged between 25 and 64, who had no previous history of any cardiovascular disease.

Exhaustion levels were determined by asking the participants to rate whether they had no exhaustion, moderate levels or high. Fourteen years later, the same men were then followed up to see whether they had experienced a heart attack during that period.

More than two-thirds (67%) of the men had vital exhaustion, of which 52% of them had noted moderate levels and 15% admitted to high levels. A total off 33% were unaffected by exhaustion.

The researchers also found that 74% of men with high blood pressure had vital exhaustion.

Dr Panov said: “Living alone indicates less social support, which we know from our prior studies is an independent risk factor for myocardial infarction and stroke.

“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.”

The study findings were presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Acute CardioVascular Care 2021, an online scientific congress.

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