Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hard Work While Fatigued Affects Blood Pressure

Working hard when fatigued may be admired by many Americans, but it is a virtue that could be harmful to one's health, according to new research by psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

The research supports a theory which suggests that exhausted individuals' cardiovascular systems are forced to work harder when they attempt to complete tasks, such as those encountered on the job or at school.

The research, published in the July issue of the International Journal of Psychophysiology , found that fatigued individuals had larger blood pressure increases than rested individuals under conditions where they viewed success as both possible and worthwhile. Investigators believe the effects were determined by effort on the part of the study participants, said UAB psychologist Rex Wright, Ph.D. , who led the study.

When fatigued individuals perceive a task as achievable and worth doing, they increase their effort to make up for their diminished capability due to fatigue, Wright said. As a result, blood pressure tends to rise and remain elevated until the task is completed or individuals stop trying because they think success is impossible or too difficult to be justified.

"Our findings are relevant to health because of links that have been established between cardiovascular responsiveness and negative health outcomes, including hypertension and heart disease," says Wright. "Individuals who experience chronically exaggerated cardiovascular responses are believed to be at greater health risk than individuals who do not. Thus, the implication is that chronic fatigue may pose a health risk under some performance conditions."

In the study, 80 subjects were provided the opportunity to earn a small chance of winning a modest prize by memorizing, in two minutes, two or six nonsense trigrams. Trigrams are meaningless, three-letter sequences, such as AED.

Before the memorization period, the subjects completed a survey that included questions about how fatigued they felt. During the memorization period, the investigators monitored the subjects' heart rate and blood pressure responses.

The data indicated that subjects who reported moderate fatigue had stronger blood pressure increases than subjects who reported low fatigue in the two-trigram condition.

"Presumably this was because the moderately fatigued subjects viewed success as relatively hard, but still possible and worthwhile," Wright said. "Subjects who reported moderate fatigue had relatively reduced blood pressure increases in the six-trigram condition, presumably because they viewed success there as impossible or too difficult to be worth the effort."

Subjects who reported very high fatigue had low blood pressure increases in both task conditions. This was interpreted to suggest that even the easy task was too difficult for them.

"It might be argued that fatigue is of little concern from a health standpoint because people will tend to withdraw effort once they become fatigued," Wright said. "The problem with this view is that it fails to recognize that people do not always have the luxury of withdrawing effort or perhaps the wisdom to do so.

"Consider, for example, a single parent with a small child who must maintain his performance level at work despite extreme and persistent fatigue, or the upwardly mobile administrator who sets increasingly difficult performance goals for herself despite the chronic fatigue that she experiences as a result of poor nutrition and sleep habits," Wright said. "To be sure, fatigue should sometimes be so compelling that it demands effort withdrawal. However, in many instances it will be below this threshold and merely amplify the effort that people expend."

This research was supported with a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Gail Short
(205) 934-8931

Gail Short | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>