We’ve known for some time that stressful occupations are more commonly associated with ill health. Firefighters or air traffic controllers, for example, are not in the same league as dietitians or perhaps nuns when it comes to work stress, and this is confirmed by the generally higher rates of blood pressure to be found in people with high stress jobs. But how accurate a predictor of future ill health is this? Not everyone in high stress jobs succumbs to illnesses such as heart disease and people in seemingly low stress jobs can still feel highly anxious and stressed. Maybe a better indicator for conditions such as coronary heart disease (CHD) is the extent to which a person feels stressed?
Results of a study involving 120,000 people, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, suggest that our perception of stress could be a significant indicator of coronary heart risk. The results were formulated from six different studies in which participants were asked questions relating to their perceived levels of stress. The research team followed up the participants for an average of 14 years and discovered that high perceived stress is associated with a 27 percent increased risk of CHD.
Cited via the ScienceDaily.com website, the author Donald Edmonson, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, states “this is the first meta-analytic review of the association of perceived stress and incident CHD [it is] the most precise estimate of that relationship, and gives credence to the widely held belief that that general stress is related to heart health.”
In an attempt to determine more about the underlying association between stress and heart disease the team discovered that a stronger relationship exists between older age, but not gender and heart disease. The older age link suggests that the effects of stress may accumulate over time. Older people also tend to have more health problems such as elevated blood pressure, which may interact with stress to increase risk factors.
Now the association between perception of stress and CHD has been established researchers will turn their attention to the factors involved and how best to moderate their effects in order to lower the risk of CHD.
Columbia University Medical Center (2012, December 17). Perceived stress may predict future coronary heart disease risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 15, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2012/12/121217121413.htm