A large international study confirms that stress increases up to 30% risk cardiovascular diseases

The risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases increases with the increase in perceived stress burden, financial problems and adverse vital events, as shown

A large international study confirms that stress increases up to 30% risk cardiovascular diseases

The risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases increases with the increase in perceived stress burden, financial problems and adverse vital events, as shown by an important ten-year follow-up study in which researchers at the University of Gothenburg, in Sweden , they are the main authors.

Researchers have been able to relate the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke with high levels of stress.

The study, published in the magazine 'Jama Network Open', included 118,706 individuals from 21 countries, five of them with low incomes, twelve with middle incomes and four with high incomes. The participants, both men and women, were between 35 and 70 years old, being 50 the average when the study began.

Initially, they were asked questions about the perceived stress in the last year. Stress was defined as the fact of feeling nervous, irritable or anxious due to factors at work or at home, being in financial difficulties or having experienced difficult events and challenging moments in their lives.

These events and moments included divorce, unemployment, duel or serious illness of a family member. Stress was rated on a scale of zero (without stress) to three (severe stress).

Of the participants, it was found that 7.3% was subjected to severe stress, 18.4% to moderate stress, 29.4% to low stress and 44% to any stress. People subjected to severe stress were slightly younger, were more frequently characterized by risk factors such as smoking or abdominal obesity, and were more frequently in high-income countries.

Individuals were followed until March 2021, which means that the median of the follow-up period was ten years. During this time, 5,934 cardiovascular events were recorded in the form of myocardial infarction, stroke or heart failure.

After adjustments for the differences in the risk factors between people with high and under stress, it was discovered that in participants with high stress the risk of some type of cardiovascular event was raised by 22%, that of infarction in a 24 % and ICTUS by 30%.

The results confirm previous investigations in this field, with the difference that in this study stress levels were classified before cardiovascular events. Previous studies tried to determine stress levels in people who had already suffered a heart attack or stroke, which could have affected the answers.

The study was based on the Population Study Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiological (Pure) and was directed by Annika Rosengren, a Medical Professor, along with its College of Research Ailiana Santosa, first author of work. Both work at the Medicine Institute of the Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg.

The study can not answer questions as if stress has a more acute or chronic effect, or if its effect differs between the income categories of the countries, the researchers support, but they highlight that one of the strengths of the study is that they are Try to survey aspects of stress that can be relevant even in countries where the term "stress" may be less current than in western high income countries.

"It is not known exactly what is the cause of the high risk of cardiovascular disease among very stressed people. But many different organism processes, such as atherosclerosis and blood coagulation, can be affected by stress," says Rosengren.

"If we want to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases globally, we have to consider stress as another modifiable risk factor," he continues.

The Pure study, in which 200,000 people from 26 countries participate, have carried out a follow-up for about a decade. The main researcher is Professor Salim Yusuf, of the Institute of Health Research of the Population, McMaster and Hamilton Health Sciences, in Canada.

"The impact of stress in cardiovascular diseases is recognized for a long time, and approaches to reduce stress are potentially promising to reduce ECV," he says.

Updated Date: 08 January 2022, 12:01

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