New research has examined the risk of heart attack and stroke, and their connection to stress levels. Although many studies have been performed on this subject, this one was different in that stress levels were classified before cardiovascular events. Previous studies only determined stress levels in people who had already had a heart attack or stroke, which may have affected the responses.
The study published in the journal JAMA Network Open included 118,706 people from 21 countries, five of which were low-income, 12 middle income, and four high-income countries. When the study began, participants were aged 35 to 70, 50 years being the average.
Researchers first asked participants questions about perceived stress in the past year. Stress was defined as feeling irritable, nervous, or anxious because of factors at home or work. These could include being in financial difficulty or experiencing difficult events and challenging times in their lives. Stress levels were rated on a scale from zero, meaning no stress, to three, indicating severe stress.
It was found that 7.3% of the participants had been subjected to severe stress, 18.4% to moderate stress, 29.4% to low stress, and 44% with no stress. Participants who indicated severe stress were slightly younger, frequently characterized by risk factors such as abdominal obesity and smoking, and were more often in high-income countries.
After a follow-up of 10 years, 5,934 cardiovascular events in the form of stroke, heart failure, and myocardial infarction were recorded. Researchers determined that in the participants with high stress, the risk of a cardiovascular event was elevated by 22%, a heart attack by 24%, and a stroke by 30%.
Further research is needed to clarify countries where the term “stress” may be less current than in western high-income countries. However, it is clear that many different processes in the body, such as blood clotting and atherosclerosis, may be affected by stress no matter where it is in the world.
How Stress Affects The Body
It is apparent that stress can affect many different processes and parts of the body. By focusing on heart health and brain function, researchers can continue their analysis and help find relationships that could offer possible preventive measures.
For those experiencing high stress, it is vital to help keep levels low by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Getting proper vitamins and nutrients is also essential. Heart Rescue and The Smart Pill are two products that have been designed to help support and promote cardiovascular health and brain health.