Considerable progress has been made during the past decade in research on cardiovascular effects of stress. Early-life stressors, such as childhood abuse and early socioeconomic adversity, are linked to increased cardiovascular morbidity in adulthood. Our updated meta-analyses of prospective studies published until 2011 show a 1.5-fold (95% confidence interval 1.2–1.9) increased risk of coronary heart disease among adults experiencing social isolation and a 1.3-fold (1.2–1.5) excess risk for workplace stress; adverse metabolic changes are one of the underlying plausible mechanisms. Stress, anger, and depressed mood can act as acute triggers of major cardiac events; the pooled relative risk of acute coronary syndrome onset being preceded by stress is 2.5 (1.8–3.5) in case-crossover studies. Stress is also implicated in the prognosis of cardiovascular disease and in the development of stress (takotsubo) cardiomyopathy. A major challenge over the next decade is to incorporate stress processes into the mainstream of cardiovascular pathophysiological research and understanding.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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