Stress and Heart Disease

The relationship between stress, heart disease and sudden death has been recognized since antiquity. The incidence of heartattacks and sudden death have been shown to increase significantly following the acute stress of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis and as a consequence of any severe stressor that evokes “fight or flight’ responses. Coronary heart disease is also much more common in individuals subjected to chronic stress and recent research has focused on how to identify and prevent this growing problem, particularly with respect to job stress. In many instances, we create our own stress that contributes to coronary disease by smoking and other faulty lifestyles or because of dangerous traits like excess anger, hostility, aggressiveness, time urgency, inappropriate competitiveness and preoccupation with work. These are characteristic of Type A coronary prone behavior, now recognized to be as significant a risk factor for heart attacks and coronary events as cigarette consumption, elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. While Type A behavior can also increase the likelihood of these standard risk factors, its strong correlation with coronary heart disease persists even when these influences have been excluded. However, there is considerable confusion about how to diagnose and measure Type A behavior and numerous misconceptions about which components are the most as indicated in the Interview with Dr. Ray Rosenman, one of the co-authors of the Type A behavior concept. The following discussion is designed to clarify these and other aspects of the role of emotions and behavior in heart disease and how this may relate to the explosive increase in job stress. References have also been provided to obtain additional details on items that may be of special interest.

Emotions, Behavioral Traits and Heart Disease: Some Historical Highlights

What is Type A Coronary Prone Behavior?

How did the Type A Concept Originate?

How can you measure Type A Coronary Prone Behavior?

Are Type A's addicted to their own adrenaline secretion?

Stress versus cholesterol for Coronary Heart Disease

Type A behavior, job stress and Coronary Heart Disease


Click here to view a Power Point presentation by Dr. Paul Rosch:


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