Vital exhaustion in chronic heart failure: Symptom profiles and clinical outcome

Otto R.F. Smith, Yori Gidron, Nina Kupper, Jobst B. Winter, Johan Denollet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the components of vital exhaustion (VE) in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients and to examine whether psychological symptom profiles based on these components are differently associated with health status and cardiac rehospitalization. Methods: Consecutive CHF patients (N=381) were assessed for VE at baseline using the Maastricht Questionnaire and assessed for health status at 6-month follow-up using the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire. Information on cardiac rehospitalization was obtained from the patients' medical records. Results: Principal component analysis revealed four essential features of VE: fatigue, cognitive-affective depressive symptoms, sleep difficulties, and lack of concentration. Latent class cluster analysis using these components identified three subgroups with different symptom profiles: a subgroup without VE, a first vitally exhausted subgroup (VE1; fatigue and lack of concentration, but with a relative absence of cognitive-affective depressive symptoms and sleep difficulties), and a second more severe, vitally exhausted subgroup (VE2; elevated levels of all components). Both vitally exhausted subgroups were more likely to have impaired health status (VE1: β=.36, P<.001; VE2: β=.71, P<.001). VE2 was also associated with an increased risk of cardiac rehospitalization at 6-month follow-up (odds ratio=2.98; 95% confidence interval=1.01-8.83; P=.049). Conclusions: VE in CHF comprised four components (fatigue, cognitive-affective depressive symptoms, sleep difficulties, and lack of concentration) from which three different symptom profiles were derived. Subgroups with symptoms of VE were associated with adverse clinical outcome in CHF. In clinical practice, these results may help identify distinct groups of patients with potentially differential risks of adverse health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-201
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The present research was supported by a VICI grant (no. 453-04-004) from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (The Hague, The Netherlands) and by a grant from the Dutch Heart Foundation (no. 2003B038) to Johan Denollet.


  • Chronic heart failure
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Symptom profiles
  • Vital exhaustion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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