Stress and heart disease

Woman looking down - British Heart FoundationStress is not a direct risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but it’s possible that it may contribute to your risk level. It all depends on your coping mechanisms.

Some people cope with stress with risky behaviour – such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and overeating.

All of these increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

How does stress affect the heart?

There is no evidence to suggest that stress causes coronary heart disease or heart attacks.

But if you have coronary heart disease and experience feelings of anxiety or are under lots of stress, it may bring on symptoms like angina.

What you can do

Changing your lifestyle in a positive way can help you feel better able to cope with some of the demands put on you. A balanced diet and regular physical activity will help you cope with stress.

If you often feel stressed or anxious, it's important to learn how to relax.

Some people find that physical activity, yoga or other relaxation techniques can help. You could make a list of things that help you to relax and schedule one every day.

You may need to identify situations that make you feel stressed at home or at work and try to avoid them if you can.

You could also learn techniques for managing stress. If you think you are stressed or very anxious, talk to your GP who will be able to help you decide on the best way to deal with it.