People with high financial stress are 13 times more likely to suffer a heart attack, while the odds are nearly six times greater for people dealing with work stress, a new study finds.
To conduct their study, Researchers at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa recruited 106 participants, half of whom had suffered from an Heart attack, to complete a survey on how depression, anxiety, and various other stressors — including ones of a personal, professional, and financial nature — affected them.
While stress and depression were found to be closely linked to having a heart attack, money and work problems were substantial risk factors, the researchers found that heart attacks were 5.6 times as common among those who had experienced moderate-to-severe work stress; and that significant financial stress increased one’s risk of heart attack 13-fold.
“Our study suggests that psychosocial aspects are important risk factors for heart attacks,” explains Dr. Denishan Govender, the study’s lead author, in a news release. “Often, patients are counseled about stress after a heart attack, but there needs to be more emphasis prior to an event. Few doctors ask about stress, depression, or anxiety during a general physical, and this should become routine practice, like asking about smoking. Just as we provide advice on how to quit smoking, patients need information on how to fight stress.”
Other researchers emphasized the importance of identifying depressed cardiac patients early on, as such lead time could allow practitioners to sufficiently address “possible barriers to lifestyle change or adherence to medication.”
The press release was published in European Society of Cardiology and can be found here