Can Stress Cause Heart Disease and Lead to Hypertension

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Can Stress Cause Heart Disease?
Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death and disability among adults in industrialized societies, and stress may be a factor in this group of disorders.
Friedman and Rosenman believe that stressful Type A personality traits are a major cause of heart and blood vessel ailments. In a ten year study of more than 3.500 men, Friedman and Rosenman found that those with Type A traits were twice as likely as those with Type B behavior to develop were five times more likely to suffer a second heart attack than were their Type B counterparts.
Other researchers are not convinced, however, that personality differences and ability to handle stress are major or direct factors in heart disease. A more recent study suggests that Type A behavior affects the processes involved in heart attacks only in societies that already have a high rate of coronary heart disease. So the direct connection between the Type A behavior, in itself, and heart disease may not be as definite as Friedman and Rosenman originally thought. It is possible that Type A behavior leads to other physical problems, which in turn may have something to do with heart disease. At this point, the consensus seems to be that although stress may be a secondary factor in the incidence of coronary heart disease, it should not be considered a primary factor.
Can Stress Lead to Hypertension?
Since an individual`s blood pressure rises temporarily in reaction to a stressor, researchers have come to suspect a possible connection between stress and hypertension. Chronic hypertension, the sustained abnormally high blood pressure that can be a forerunner of cardiovascular disease, is believed to be stress-related. A number of studies reveal that people who work under great psychological pressures (such as air traffic controllers) and those who are subjected to sustained environmental stress (such as people who work in places with high levels of noise) are more likely to develop high blood pressure than people who live and work in less tension-filled atmospheres.

References :
Rosenman and Friedman, Neurologic Factors
Keys, Sven Countries: Death and Coronary Heart Disease in Ten Years, Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1979.
Marvin R Levy, Mark Dignan, Janet H Shirreffs, Essentials of Life & Health, Fourth Edition, Random House, New York, 1984.

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