Daily stress strongly increases heart disease risk, study finds

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In a new study from the University of Gothenburg, researchers found the risk of heart disease rises with an increasing burden of perceived stress, financial problems, and adverse life events.

They were able to link the risk of both heart attack and stroke with high-stress levels.

The study included 118,706 individuals in 21 countries. The participants, both men, and women were aged 35–70.

Initially, they were asked questions about perceived stress in the past year.

“Stress” was defined as feeling nervous, irritable, or anxious because of factors at work or at home, being in financial difficulties, or having experienced difficult events and challenging times in their lives.

Such events and times included divorce, unemployment, bereavement, or serious illness in a family member. The stress was rated on a scale from zero (no stress) to three (severe stress).

Those under severe stress were slightly younger, more frequently characterized by risk factors such as smoking or abdominal obesity, and more often in high-income countries.

The team found that in the participants with high stress the risk of some form of a cardiovascular event was elevated by 22%, that of heart attack by 24%, and that of stroke 30%.

They say it’s not known exactly what causes the elevated risk of cardiovascular disease among severely stressed people.

But many different processes in the body, such as atherosclerosis and blood clotting, may be affected by stress.

The present study cannot answer such questions as to whether stress has a more acute or chronic effect, or whether its effect differs among the country income categories.

According to the researchers, however, the study involves is that it involves surveying aspects of stress that may be relevant even in countries where the term “stress” may be less current than in western high-income countries.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about common antibiotic drug linked to higher heart attack risk, and findings that eating this food regularly can protect against recurrent heart disease.

For more information about heart health, please see recent studies about common oral health problems that may increase the risk of heart disease, and results showing that common heartburn drugs may help treat COVID-19.

The study is published in JAMA Network Open. One author of the study is professor Salim Yusuf.

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