High levels of stress linked to heart disease and other illnesses

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High levels of stress linked to heart disease and other illnesses

Recent studies have shown that high levels of stress can significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease or stroke (lack of oxygen in brain leading to paralysis). Researchers believe that stress may be responsible for some of the risk factors related to heart disease such as high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, smoking, overeating. 

One such study was conducted on 73,000 Japanese men and women (in the age group of 40-79), who were made to fill a lifestyle survey questionnaire to assess the level of stress they experienced. The health of all the participants was monitored for about 8 years. 

At the end of the study it was observed that around 9,000 women and 7,000 men experienced high levels of mental stress. It was estimated that women with high levels of stress were more than 2 times at risk of developing heart disease or stroke as compared to women with low levels of stress. Women with high stress levels were also at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure or diabetes. The researchers also observed that those women who experienced high levels of mental stress were mostly young, well educated and less physically active women. Also they were more likely to be angry, in haste, and feeling hopeless and discontented.

The findings in the study showed the link between stress and heart disease to be more marked in females than males, but at the same time men experiencing medium or high levels of stress were found to be 2 times more at risk of having a heart attack. The exact reason for the stronger link in women is not clear yet, but the researchers feel that it may be due to difference in how a person perceives stress. Also it is possible that men participating in the study were not very open about admitting high levels of stress.

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