The Link Between Stress and Heart Disease: Exploring the Science

Did you know that stress can increase the risk of heart disease? Researchers found that several forms of stress can increase the risk of heart disease which can be fatal if not noticed earlier. Learn about the connection between stress and heart disease and how you can prevent them in this article. Get a consultation with the best cardiologists in Brooklyn.

The link between stress and heart disease

You may not know, but, stress not only increases the risk of mental health conditions but also heart conditions as well. Researchers found that some forms of stress including chronic stress, loneliness, acute stress, anger, and helplessness can cause harmful effects on your body, especially on your heart health. They noticed a strong stress response to the cardiovascular system. In a 2021 study, in a large group of 118,706 people without any heart disease across 21 countries, researchers found that high stress can increase the risk of these conditions:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Death

2017 research found cardiovascular disease is connected to the area of the brain called the amygdala. This area of the brain processes feelings like stress and fear which play a key role in initiating stress response. To confirm this theory, the researchers scanned the brains of 293 people, and they noticed that people who have high activity in the amygdala area of their brain have linked with an elevated level of white blood cell production in bone marrow, which can lead to inflammation in the arteries. This artery inflammation can increase the risk of cardiovascular events such as chest pain, heart attack, and stroke. A similar small study of 13 people who got a psychological analysis along with a brain scan, found that higher perceived stress can increase the activity of the amygdala, inflammation in the arteries, and levels of C-reactive protein, which leads to inflammation in the body. Additionally, a 2018 study shows that stress increases the risk of cardiomyopathy, a progressive disease that weakens the heart muscle. Also in 2021, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a scientific statement telling the importance of psychological health on heart health.

Besides this, research found that both significant events and the buildup of daily stresses can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. It includes:

  • Perceived Stress: This is the stress you are currently under. High levels of perceived stress are linked to coronary heart disease and coronary heart disease-related deaths.
  • Work-related stress: Stress that is produced due to work or the workplace can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 40%.
  • Social isolation: Social isolation and loneliness are also associated with cardiovascular disease risk with an increase of 50% especially with cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
  • Stress during childhood: When you experience stressful and traumatic events in childhood then it increases the risk of inflammation which further increases the risk factors of heart disease later in life.

All these studies confirm that stress can increase the risk of heart disease.

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