Home » Cardiovascular Health » Heart Disease Risk Factors » Emotional Problems

Stress and Heart Disease

Stress factor in heart disease


If you are already aware that you have a tendency to be stressed out, you may be worried about the connection between stress and heart disease. To understand this potential connection, you need to understand how stress affects our bodies and what research is suggesting about these effects and our risks of developing coronary heart disease as a result.

Effects of Stress

Our bodies have intricate stress response systems originally established to help us deal with physical provocations that might threaten our survival. This is known as the fight or flight response. When we get into a potentially dangerous situation, our bodies released chemicals that help us remove ourselves from the situation. According to the Mayo Clinic, these two chemicals are adrenaline and cortisol. Normally, when the event subsides our chemical levels return to normal.

In modern life, however, the causes of our stress can be ever present and not as easy to escape as a potential predator. That means that you can find yourself experiencing ongoing stress. The adrenaline and cortisol that are released as a result can continue to stress our bodies and can result in health problems, including trouble sleeping, eczema, obesity, memory issues, and possibly heart disease.

Is Stress a Factor in a Heart Disease?

Although most people assume that stress is going to lead to a greater risk of heart disease, the reality is that more research has to be done to determine if that connection is legitimate. Both WebMD.com and the American Heart Association agree on this point. One alternative possibility is that stress does not actually lead to heart disease but causes other factors that increase that risk. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are two of those possible stress-related risk factors. Continued stress may also impact blood clotting as well, which means putting yourself at greater risk of developing a clot that might lead to a heart attack.

Stress also contributes to other lifestyle factors that may end up increasing the chances that you will suffer from heart disease. For example, high levels of stress could cause you to gain weight, which can increase your risk of developing coronary heart disease.

The bottom line is that the connection between stress and heart disease is not yet fully known; however, continued research is being conducted to identify the relationship for certain.

Other Issues Regarding Stress and Heart Disease

Part of the difficulty in determining this connection comes from the fact that not everyone responds to stress in the same way. If people are well-equipped to handle stressful situations such as serious life changes, they will not experience the same stress levels as people who are less equipped to handle such issues as a job loss or other drastic change. That means the connection between stress and heart disease could vary from person to person.

According to the American Heart Association, the situation is further complicated because so little research has been performed to study the effects of stress on women and people from different minority groups. The evidence that does exist suggests differences exist between these groups.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

One Response to “Stress and Heart Disease”

  1. 1
    Deena Says:
    I do have a tendency to stress out about petty things, but I don't know what to do with it. I've never been prone to weight gain and I don't have any bad habits, as well as leading a healthy lifestyle with a generally good diet. Do you think I could still be prone to heart disease?