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Chronic Stress Raises Your Risk of Several Types of Cardiovascular Disease

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

stress and heart disease

Story at-a-glance -

  • Recent research shows people with stress related disorders are 29% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease compared to a sibling without a stress disorder, and 37% more likely compared to the general population
  • Within the first year of a stress diagnosis, the risk for cardiovascular disease is even greater — 64% greater than that of a sibling and 71% greater than the general population. The link is also particularly strong for those under the age of 50
  • Previous research has demonstrated that stress increases your risk of heart attack and stroke by causing overactivity in your amygdala, your brain’s fear center
  • As your stress level rises, so does your level of disease-promoting white blood cells, and this is yet another way by which stress can lead to atherosclerosis, plaque rupture and heart attack
  • During moments of high stress your body also releases norepinephrine, which can disperse bacterial biofilms from the walls of your arteries, allowing plaque deposits to suddenly break loose, thereby triggering a heart attack

Stress has enormous implications for your health. From an evolutionary perspective, the stress response is a lifesaving biological function that enables you to instinctively square-off against an assailant, run away from a predator or take down a prey.

However, those of us living in the modern world are now activating this same biological reaction in response to activities and events that have no life-threatening implications whatsoever, from speaking in public to filling out tax forms to sitting in traffic jams.


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