Study: Difficulty dealing with stress may increase risk of heart disease

In a new study from Denmark, researchers examined the relationship between the reaction to stress and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. They found that those participants who demonstrated a “mental vulnerability” to stress –defined as “a tendency to experience psychosomatic symptoms or inadequate interpersonal reactions”– had a 36 percent higher risk of experiencing a cardiac event than their non-vulnerable counterparts.

The researchers noted, however, that mental vulnerability should not be considered an independent risk factor that improves risk prediction within the general population:

“[Study author Dr. Anders] Borglykke believes the association between mental vulnerability and cardiovascular disease may be explained by the chronic psychological stress mentally vulnerable people experience. This, he added, might also provide a clue for reducing the risk — by removing the triggers of chronic stress to which such individuals are exposed.”

The study included data from nearly 11,000 healthy people who were followed for an average of almost 16 years. At the start of the study, researchers asked participants questions to assess how they handle stress.   

Learn more about Polaris-CV, an outcomes management system to better identify and manage depression and anxiety among cardiac patients.