Heart Health

Updated 13 February 2013

Stress and heart disease

Prolonged and badly managed stress can not only cause, but can exacerbate cardiovascular disease. Find out how to avoid losing your life to stress.


Stress has been known to cause or worsen the following cardiovascular conditions: heart attack, high blood pressure, thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or plaque formation), thrombosis (formation of blood clots) and stroke.

Many medical doctors believe that occupational, relationship, financial and/or work-related stress is the most important risk factor and cause for coronary heart disease and heart attacks, often starting with a silent elevation in blood pressure.

Research also shows that people who cut their stress levels and keep them under control face a 60% lower chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke than constant worriers.

Go for regular physical check-ups – high blood pressure is a silent disease, as is early diabetes, high cholesterol and thickening of the arteries.

It’s important to determine your day-to-day working blood pressure and not only the value that’s measured in the doctor’s room (while you may be nervous). However, the tendency for your blood pressure to rise, might indicate a reactive narrowing of the blood vessels (arteries) when you experience situations that are stressful for you.

To cut everyday stress, try the following:

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes at a time, most days of the week;
  • Stick to a regular sleep routine;
  • Engage in stress-releasing activities such as yoga or meditation;
  • Take up a hobby, such as painting or woodwork;
  • Take regular holidays and mini-breaks; and
  • Get a pet.

- (Health24)


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