Heart disease is one of the most widespread diseases in the world. It affects millions of people and is number one cause of death in many countries. To deal with heart disease it is necessary to make some lifestyle changes, be physically active and eat healthy diet. Furthermore, it’s also important to manage stress. Why? It’s because stress can significantly worsen your condition and put you at a greater risk. This article will discuss the link between stress and heart disease.

Causes of stress

According to Australian Psychological Society financial reasons are the primary cause of stress and depression in the country. It accounts for 49% cases in their survey. Other causes of stress include family problems 45%, personal health problems 42%, trying to stay healthy 39% and health of others 36%.

The figures aren’t surprising. The older you get the more difficult it is to resolve certain problems in your life. You’re worried about the retirement, finances; you’re worried about your children and grandchildren, particularly if they are faced with their own problems as well. As a parent or grandparent you emotionally go through everything that your family faces all the time, good and bad. All this takes its toll on your health by mounting stress.

The ever-increasing amount of problems and difficult situations that every senior citizen faces on daily basis only contributes to stress levels thus jeopardizing your health. For example, National Seniors Australia reveals that heart disease kills more older women than breast cancer.

Furthermore, Active Seniors Health Center published an interesting article about older men and heart disease in Australia. The article reveals that 98 men in the country have heart attack every day, and 1 in 7 of those men die.

Active Seniors Health Center also emphasizes the importance of regular checkups and visits to doctor’s office, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with heart disease.

Stress and Heart health – The connection

Scientists from Harvard Medical School conducted a study to inspect the connection between stress and heart health. The team of researchers led by Matthias Nahrendorf, co-author of the study, discovered that stress causes overproduction of white blood cells.

White blood cells protect our body from a wide array of diseases, but can be quite damaging if produced in excess. These extra white blood cells can stick to artery walls thus causing restrictions in blood flow and helping clots to form and cause blood-vessel blockages throughout the body.

The study included 29 medical residents who worked in hospital’s intensive care unit, which is considered as highly stressful workplace. Findings from the study were published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Furthermore, Heart.org points out that stress may affect our behaviors as well as other factors that contribute to heart disease. For example, cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, overeating, smoking, lack of physical activity, alcohol etc. The way we manage stress can contribute to cardiovascular disease, if the method is considered as unhealthy.

The body’s response to stress might be a severe headache or fatigue that drains all the energy out of you. Basically, stress can cause a chain of events that could aggravate one’s condition.

Must watch this video: What You Really Need to Know About Depression?

If I manage stress can I prevent or relieve heart disease?

As mentioned above, the older you are, the more difficult it is to fight stress. For example, you probably noticed that when you were younger, you could tackle stressful situations more effectively than you do now. However, having a special or unique way of managing stress could help you relieve heart disease or improve overall health.

Why is that important? It’s because heart disease sufferers, particularly seniors, are prone to depression after diagnosis. Depression can be associated with a wide array of factors. For example:
Realization of fragility of life
Not being able to cope with disease (particularly if a person’s health was good before)
Financial difficulties (paying bills, retirement, paying medications, treatments, tests)
You don’t want your family to worry and knowing they do makes you extremely sad etc.

Here are some tips that you can try:
Consult a professional if you’re depressed (it’s very helpful)
Do low-impact exercises if your mobility is limited e.g. you can visit senior center on daily basis, they always do some special exercises that are suitable for elderly population
Limit coffee and alcohol intake
Take a few slow, deep breaths
Quit smoking.

National Seniors Australia also wrote about Australian hardship portal that you can visit and get help regarding stress that was caused by finances.

First, you should recognize and identify stress management techniques you use when feeling stressed out. It’s helpful because it gives you the idea what you should change and find a new way to teal with stress. Answering the following questions will give you the idea.

When you are stressed out do you:
Eat too much?
Become irritable and hostile towards other people? Or maybe you try to keep it all in?
Drink alcohol?
Smoke a cigarette?
Speak and eat very fast?
Sleep too little or too much?
Try to do as many things as you can at once?

Stats: Heart disease in Australia

Cardiovascular diseases kill one Australian every 12 minutes.
Cardiovascular diseases affect one in six Australians; which accounts for 3.72 million people
According to HeartFoundation.org.au the lives of 43,603 Australians or 30% of deaths are largely preventable.
Coronary disease or heart disease affects about 1.4 million of Australians and is the single leading cause of death in the country
Additionally, heart disease itself kills 54 Australians a day or one Australian every 27 minutes.


Older age is one of the main risk factors for heart disease, even if your health has been great throughout your life. Defining how you manage stress and trying to manage it are extremely beneficial not only for heart disease but overall health as well.







Author's Bio: 

Evlin Symon is an experienced health writer. She specializes in health, fitness, weight loss and beauty. When she is not writing she can be usually found reading a good book.