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Fatigue may predict heart attack

04/06/2010 - Articles

Fatigue may predict heart attack

By: Susan Aldridge, medical journalist, PhD

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Fatigue is a very common symptom and it may, or may not, suggest underlying health issues. To complicate matters, fatigue is also difficult to measure. However, a new study, from researchers at Osaka City University, Japan, reveals how a new scale for measuring fatigue has uncovered a link with heart attack. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms experienced by patients on dialysis for kidney failure. The researchers applied the new questionnaire to a group of 788 patients on dialysis and found that around 16% had very high fatigue scores. After two years of follow up, patients with a high fatigue score were found to have more than twice the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The new fatigue questionnaire looks as if it is a valuable clinical tool. It separates out fatigue from many associated factors like anxiety, depression, pain and stress. In this study, fatigue was the strongest predictor of cardiovascular risk, even among patients who had no other risk factors such as malnutrition, diabetes, or pre-existing heart disease. There is some other evidence that fatigue and other psychosocial factors influence the risk of heart disease, but further research is needed to determine how fatigue plays this role. The new questionnaire could help researchers explore these links and even better understand fatigue itself. The dialysis patients are just one sub-group of those at risk of heart disease. We don’t know yet if fatigue is a warning signal of heart attack and stroke in other populations. Commenting on the significance of the work, lead researcher Hidenori Koyama said: ‘Our research identifies fatigue as an important bio-alarm to predict cardiovascular disease in dialysis patients, particularly those who are well-nourished and healthy-looking. It is also possible that reducing fatigue might help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in dialysis patients and maybe others as well.

 

Source:

Koyama H et al Fatigue is a predictor for cardiovascular outcomes in patients undergoing hemodialysis Clinical Journal of the American Journal of Nephrology 25th February 2010 doi: 10.2215/CJN.08151109

 

Created on: 04/06/2010
Reviewed on: 04/06/2010

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