Magazine article Science News

Extreme Fatigue Hard on Repaired Hearts

Magazine article Science News

Extreme Fatigue Hard on Repaired Hearts

Article excerpt

In the days or weeks before a heart attack or sudden death from heart disease, many people feel drained and devoid of their usual energy A new study suggests that psychological factors help to produce this kind of exhaustion in some individuals after surgical repair of narrowed heart arteries; the fatigue then markedly boosts their chances of suffering further serious cardiac problems.

Fatigue, heightened irritability and a sense of demoralization make up what Willem J. Kop, a psychologist at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., and his colleagues call "vital exhaustion."

"It may be that psychological stress reduction, resulting in a reduction of feelings of vital exhaustion, will reduce the risk of new cardiac events in patients [after the artery procedure]," the scientists conclude in the July/August PSYCHOSOMATIC MEDICINE.

Kop's team recruited 127 adults, none more than 70 years old, who had undergone angioplasty to widen at least one significantly constricted cardiac artery About 2 weeks after successful treatment, each participant completed a questionnaire designed to tap into the three components of vital exhaustion.

A previous study employing this questionnaire, which followed healthy men for more than 4 years, found that the rate of initial heart attacks doubled for those who had cited vital exhaustion.

The current project, which monitored volunteers for 1 1/2 years after their discharge from the hospital, reveals a similar pattern. …

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