A new study by researchers from Linköping University in Sweden has reported that long-term stress may increase the risk of a heart attack. The increasing levels of the stress hormone cortisol over the months may lead to a heart attack.
Researchers have found out that the levels of the stress hormone cortisol varied between people who have had a heart attack and those not affected. It is a known fact that stress is a part of daily life in today’s busy world. While it is common that sudden emotional or physical stress can trigger heart attacks, the consequence of long-term stress is not quite known yet.
In this study, 174 middle-aged patients admitted to cardiology clinics with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) were compared to 3156 controls from a population-based cohort in southeast Sweden. The researchers noted that patients who suffered a heart attack had significantly higher levels of cortisol during the month preceding the event. They adjusted this result for other established cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, smoking, high levels of blood lipids, etc. Upon this adjustment, they concluded that high cortisol level remained a strong risk factor for heart attack. Thus, prolonged stress seems to be a new risk factor for AMI.
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Tomas Faresjö, Susanna Strömberg, Mike Jones, Andreas Stomby, Jan-Erik Karlsson, Carl Johan Östgren, Åshild Faresjö, Elvar Theodorsson. Elevated levels of cortisol in hair precede acute myocardial infarction. Scientific Reports, 2020; 10 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-80559-9