Stress and Heart Attack – Can Stress Cause a Heart Attack?

Over a million people have heart attacks every year in the United States alone. The startling fact is that it’s no longer restricted to people over 65. Reports of heart attack among women and even younger people are on the rise in recent times. While various factors are responsible for heart attacks like high cholesterol, lack of exercise, obesity and blood pressure, the contribution of stress seems to be the most.

In one research, when a group of people with past history of heart attack where given stressful tasks, blood pressure and heart rate increased in all of them. However, in the group who had suffered an attack due to stress, it took a significantly longer time for the blood pressure to return to normal compared to the group whose cause of previous attack was not stress. Also, the former group had higher number of clot forming platelets in their blood. Platelets are formed to stop the bleeding when tear occurs in the heart vessels due to an attack. However, these clots can also cause a blockage restricting the blood flow to the heart.

Another group of researchers have also found that ambitious, aggressive, critical, self-demanding people are more susceptible to heart attacks than less ambitious and less competitive people. When one understands how stress is caused, it becomes clear why the research holds true. We get stressed when things go out of control or when we get too much attached to the outcome of our actions. Ambitious and aggressive people are often critical and demanding of themselves and others. This attitude puts a lot of stress on oneself. On other hand, less-ambitious and contented people do not have high expectations. Therefore they are much more relaxed.

One thing is clear, when it comes to managing stress, relaxation is the key.