Stress and cardiac disease

The subjective experience of stress triggers a “fight” or “flight” physiological response affecting our immune, neuroendocrine and sympathetic systems.

Psychosocial stress has been associated with incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) in men through a number of studies, including:

People who experience high levels of perceived stress are highly likely to suffer from stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure, depression and heart disease (Santagostino et al 1996, Johnston 1997, Glaser et al 1999).

Depression, social isolation and lack of social support are significant risk factors for CHD that are independent of conventional risk factors such as smoking, hypercholesterolaemia and hypertension and are of similar magnitude to these conventional risk factors.

Acute life-event “stressors” can trigger coronary events. (National Heart Foundation of Australia 2003)

European Heart Journal research in 2008 found evidence to link work-related stress to coronary heart disease. They concluded that “work stress may be an important determinant of CHD among working-age populations, which is mediated through indirect effects on health behaviours and direct effects on neuroendocrine stress pathways. (European Heart Journal 2008)

Mental stress is as dangerous to the heart as physical stress for people with coronary artery disease (CAD).
There is strong and consistent link between depression, social isolation and lack of quality social support and heart disease.
Depression, social isolation and lack of quality social support are as risky to heart health as abnormal levels of blood fats, smoking and high blood pressure (World Heart Federation 2008)

Since stress is effectively a “mental” state, meditation has been demonstrated to reduce stress, anger, hostility and depression.


Mindfulness (by Dav Panesar)