Stress reaction gene linked to heart attacks

18 December 2013        

Category: Research

Computer research

A genetic trait known to make people sensitive to stress also appears to be responsible for an increased risk of heart attack or death in heart patients, according to researchers.

In a study of more than 6,100 heart patients, researchers focused on a genetic variation that causes a hyperactive reaction to stress.

Patients with the genetic variation had the highest rates of heart attacks and deaths. Even adjusting for age, obesitysmoking history and other risk factors, the genetic trait was associated with an increased heart risk.

There are positive lifestyle changes you can make to help you cope with stress.

Our Associate Medical Director, Professor Jeremy Pearson, said: “These interesting results provide further evidence that stress may directly increase heart disease risk.

“By finding a possible mechanism behind this relationship, these researchers have suggested tackling the problem either by changing behaviour or, if needed, with existing medicines.

“There are positive lifestyle changes you can make to help you cope with stress. A balanced diet and regular physical activity will help you feel better able to cope with life’s demands.

“If you often feel anxious and you’re worried about your stress levels, make an appointment to talk it through with your doctor.”

We've got information and resources to help you understand the impact of stress on your heart and how you can deal with it.