– EN Fitness & Wellbeing – People experiencing stress-related disorders are much more likely to suffer from heart disease, new research has found.
Researchers at the University of Iceland and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have analysed the medical records of over 136,600 people who were diagnosed with a stress-related disorder between 1987 and 2013.
Participants had experienced a variety of conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adjustment disorder, which is triggered by small life changes.
Another common condition was acute stress reaction, which occurs when people develop anxiety, flashbacks or palpitations after a stressful event, including grieving a loved one, being diagnosed with a deadly illness, natural disasters or being violently attacked.
The participants were compared against their siblings, as well as 10 randomly-selected people of the same sex and birth year who were free of any stress-related disorders or heart disease.
Findings showed that those with stress-related disorders were more likely to develop cardiovascular conditions when faced with a traumatic life event, with patients 64 per cent more at risk of heart disease within the first year of the event occurring.
The link was also strongest for early-onset heart disease, which occurs before the age of 50, than conditions that develop in later life.
Reflecting on the findings, lead researcher Dr. Huan Song said the study showed a “clear association” between stress-related disorders and a higher risk of heart disease.
“Most people are, at some point during their life, exposed to psychological trauma or stressful life events such as the death of a loved one,” she said. “Accumulating evidence suggests that such adversities might lead to an increased risk of several major diseases and mortality.”