Saturday, July 2, 2011 | 7:52 am

The question of whether psychological stress and personality cause coronary artery disease, heart attacks, and sudden cardiac death is highly controversial. A great deal of research seems to suggest that your personality, the stressful events in your life, and your body’s physiological reaction to stress can increase your risk of heart disease. However, this theory is far from proven. Stress is a very difficult area to study because it is hard to measure psychological and physical responses to stress or to assess the social factors that may buffer the detrimental effects

of stress.

Many different situations can be a source of stress, and the response to a given situation may vary dramatically from one person to another. These are reasons why researchers have had difficulty identifying whether or how stress contributes to the development of heart disease.

It is common for people with heart disease to report that emotional peaks cause chest pain, and it is also common for heart attacks to occur during emotionally difficult periods. The added stress of emotional upset may  disrupt the balance between supply and demand of the heart for oxygen, causing chest pain.

Although in certain cases it seems possible that acute stress was a factor in precipitating a heart attack, it is not clear whether ongoing stress can cause the underlying coronary disease (atherosclerosis) that is usually associated with heart attacks. To try to answer that question, researchers have studied the subject of stress and heart disease in terms of people’s personalities, social support systems, and their body’s  physiological responses to stress.


(posted in Cardio & Blood-Cholesterol)

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