Burnout 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.
Participants 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.
During 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.
Burnout 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.
CI = confidence interval
CHD = coronary heart disease
IHD = ischemic heart disease
SMBM = Shirom-Melamed Burnout Measure
BMI = body mass index
ECG = electrocardiogram
LDL = low-density lipoprotein