JAN 15, 2020 7:42 AM PST

Burnout May Cause Heart Problems

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

At least 2.7 million Americans are affected by the most common variety of irregular heartbeat, known as atrial fibrillation (AFib). Now, new research has found that there may be a link between burnout, a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive stress oftentimes from work, and the risk of developing AFib. 

For the study, researchers from the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine recruited over 11,000 men and women over 25 years who, at the beginning of the study, did not have the condition. Over the study period, the researchers checked on each participant five times to evaluate their anger, levels of exhaustion, quality of social support and usage of antidepressants, and then compared these evaluations to their health records over the same period.  

In the end, they found that 20.7% of those reporting the highest levels of burnout developed AFib at some point in their lives, with 18.2% of those with the lowest levels of burnout reporting the same. Meanwhile, they found no correlation between their reported levels of anger, their usage of antidepressants and the quality of social support they received in their chances of developing the condition.

So how may burnout lead to AFib? In their paper, the researchers noted that burnout is associated with inflammation, something that can activate the body’s physiological stress response, and thus result in physiological issues. Lead author of the study, Dr. Parveen K. Garg said, “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.”

He continued, "The findings for anger and social support are consistent with prior research, but two previous studies did find a significant association between antidepressant use and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation."

With this study having shown a mild correlation between burnout and AFib, more research is needed before a relationship may be properly established between the two. Dr Nicholas Skiptaris, director of cardiac electrophysiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, recommended that further research could investigate whether “increased levels of inflammatory markers and increased stress somehow changes the electrical system of the heart to cause you to have AFib.”



Sources: Healthline and WebMD

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
MAR 25, 2020
Health & Medicine
Boosting Your Immunity to Avoid COVID-19 Infection
MAR 25, 2020
Boosting Your Immunity to Avoid COVID-19 Infection
With the COVID-19 pandemic at the forefront of most people’s minds, you might be wondering what you can do to keep ...
APR 07, 2020
Cardiology
Heart Attack Doctors Sit Idle Amid Coronavirus Fears
APR 07, 2020
Heart Attack Doctors Sit Idle Amid Coronavirus Fears
Across the United States, doctors have reported that hospitals are eerily quiet apart from wards housing patients diagno ...
MAY 04, 2020
Cardiology
Machine Learning May Help in the Diagnosis of Inherited High Cholesterol
MAY 04, 2020
Machine Learning May Help in the Diagnosis of Inherited High Cholesterol
Familial hypercholesterolemia, or FH, is an inherited genetic mutation in how the body recycles LDL cholesterol (bad cho ...
JUN 14, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Why Are There So Few Black People in STEM?
JUN 14, 2020
Why Are There So Few Black People in STEM?
On June 10th, 2020, thousands of STEM scientists and organizations around the world went on strike to protest systemic r ...
JUN 29, 2020
Neuroscience
Stroke Most Common Brain Side Effect from COVID-19
JUN 29, 2020
Stroke Most Common Brain Side Effect from COVID-19
Researchers from the UK have identified having a stroke as the most common neurological side-effect of COVID-19. They al ...
JUL 28, 2020
Cardiology
Looking to Newborns for Help Healing Scars on the Heart
JUL 28, 2020
Looking to Newborns for Help Healing Scars on the Heart
Scars are a badge of honor to many, but they are really just a consequence of the body’s repair response. The body ...
Loading Comments...