Walker Heart Institute
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Stress & Heart Disease

Managing stress makes sense for your overall health. But current data don't yet support specific recommendations about stress reduction as a proven therapy for cardiovascular disease.

"Stress" response describes the condition caused by a person's reaction to physical, chemical, emotional or environmental factors. Stress can refer to physical effort and mental tension. It's hard to define a high level of emotional or psychological stress to measure in a precise way. All people feel stress, but they feel it in different amounts and react to it in different ways.

More and more evidence suggests a relationship between the risk of cardiovascular disease and environmental and psychosocial factors. These factors include job strain, social isolation and personality traits. But more research is needed on how stress contributes to heart disease risk. We don't know if stress acts as an "independent" risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Acute and chronic stress may affect other risk factors and behaviors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating.

More research is also needed on stress's role in heart disease risk among women and minorities.  Also, only a few studies have examined how well treatment or therapy works to reduce the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease. Studies using psychosocial therapies to prevent second heart attacks are promising. After a heart attack or stroke, people who feel depressed, anxious or overwhelmed by stress should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professional. These feelings are relatively common, and help is available.

 

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 Washington Regional
 3215 N. North Hills Blvd.
 Fayetteville, AR 72703
 (479) 463-1000

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Best Regional Hospitals U.S. News 2011-12
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