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Chronic stress puts individuals at an increased risk of numerous health problems. 

You Gave Me a Heart Attack! Stress & CVD

Chronic Reactions to Stress Lead to Cardiovascular Problems

Are you familiar with the Hollywood trope where a character is so stressed by a situation that they have a heart attack? Medical professionals have sometimes criticized scenes like these in movies for their inaccurate depiction of what a cardiovascular episode looks like. But there’s one thing Hollywood didn’t get wrong – stress does put people at higher risk of heart disease and death!

In a recent study, individuals ages 35 to 70 years in 27 countries across five continents were asked about three types of stress:

  • Psychological stress : Defined as feeling irritable or filled with anxiety or having sleeping difficulties due to conditions at work or home.
  • Life event stress : Defined as any of several specified major adverse life events in the past year (ex., loss of job, retirement, loss of crop or business failure, marital separation or divorce, death of spouse, death or significant illness of close family member).
  • Financial stress : Defined as feeling financial pressure in the last 12 months, with the following response options: little or none, moderate, and high or severe.  

From these questions, investigators built a composite stress score for participants. At the beginning of the study, none of these participants had cardiovascular disease. But over the years of follow-up, researchers discovered a significant association between adverse psychosocial factors (stress) and increased risk of death, heart disease, and stroke.

So, how stressed are you, and what types of stress are you experiencing? What support structures do you have to help you manage your stress? If you’re looking for research-based ways to stay calm, check out some of our resources below:

Current research on contemplative practices

Research-based tips to relieve stress

Or are you looking for more health-related research? Stay connected on our website at ALYKA Health

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