Burnout and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A Prospective Study of 8838 Employees

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ObjectiveBurnout is a negative affective state consisting of emotional exhaustion, physical fatigue, and cognitive weariness symptoms. This study was designed to evaluate prospectively the association between burnout and coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence and to test the possibility that this association is nonlinear.MethodsParticipants were 8838 apparently healthy employed men and women, aged 19 to 67 years, who came for routine health examinations at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. They were followed up for 3.4 years on average. Burnout was measured by the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Measure. CHD incidence was defined as a composite of acute myocardial infarction, diagnosed ischemic heart disease, and diagnosed angina pectoris.ResultsDuring follow-up, we identified 93 new cases of CHD. Baseline levels of burnout were associated with an increased risk of CHD, after adjustment for various risk factors (hazard ratio = 1.41; 95% confidence interval = 1.08–1.85). In addition, we observed a significant threshold effect of burnout on CHD incidence. Participants who scored high on burnout (scores in the upper quintile of the Shirom-Melamed Burnout Measure scores distribution) had a higher risk (hazard ratio = 1.79; 95% confidence interval = 1.05–3.04) of developing CHD on follow-up compared with others.ConclusionsBurnout is an independent risk factor for future incidence of CHD. Individuals with high levels of burnout (upper quintile) have a significantly higher risk of developing CHD compared with those with low levels of burnout.AbbreviationsCI = confidence intervalCHD = coronary heart diseaseIHD = ischemic heart diseaseSMBM = Shirom-Melamed Burnout MeasureBMI = body mass indexECG = electrocardiogramLDL = low-density lipoprotein

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