New research warns that money and stress from work could lead to a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke by as much as 30%. 

From an international sample of more than 100,000 people, researchers in Sweden have linked the risk of cardiovascular disease with high stress levels.  

Experts can’t prove that high levels of stress are responsible for the development of heart disease.

Studies have shown that cortisol levels high from prolonged stress may increase blood cholesterol and triglycerides as well as blood sugar and blood pressure.

The risk of cardiovascular disease rises with perceived feelings of stress, financial problems and adverse life events, University of Gothenburg experts say

According to University of Gothenburg experts, cardiovascular disease is more likely when there are financial worries, stress or adverse life events. 


A general term that refers to any condition that has an effect on the blood vessels or heart, is Cardiovascular Disease (CVD).

Atherosclerosis is usually associated with the buildup of fat deposits in the arteries, which can lead to blood clots.

This can cause damage to the arteries of organs like the heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and liver.

CVD is a leading cause of disability and death in the UK. However, it can be greatly reduced by living a healthy life. 

Although all heart conditions are considered to be cardiovascular diseases, they are not all heart disease.

‘It’s not known exactly what causes the elevated risk of cardiovascular disease among the severely stressed people,’ said study author Annika Rosengren, a professor of medicine at the University of Gothenburg. 

Stress can affect many processes within the body such as blood clotting and atherosclerosis.

“Stress is a modifiable risk factor that can be reduced globally to decrease the chance of heart disease,” says Dr. 

All types of heart diseases, such as coronary heart disease, can affect blood vessels and heart health. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, claiming 17.9 millions lives annually.  

These new data were based on data taken from Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology’s (PURE) studies between January 2003 & March 2021.

PURE has more than 200,000 participants, but the new research focused on 118,706 individuals without any history of cardiovascular disease conditions. 

The individuals were in 21 countries – four high-income countries, (including Canada, Sweden and United Arab Emirates), 12 middle-income countries (including Brazil, Poland, South Africa) and five low-income countries (including India, Pakistan, Zimbabwe). 

Not included in the sampling were the large west nations (including the US and UK) and high-populating countries like China, Russia, Japan. 

Participants, men and women, ranged in age from 35-70 years. However, the median age at the beginning of the study was 50. 

Initially, they were asked questions about perceived stress in the past year, rated on a scale from zero (no stress) to three (severe stress).

Stress is an emotion that causes anxiety, panic, or nervousness. It can be caused by factors at work and at home as well as financial problems or difficult life events.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a general term for conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels. CVD events include heart disease and stroke. All heart diseases are cardiovascular diseases, but not all cardiovascular diseases are heart disease (stock image)

CVD is the general name for any condition that affects blood vessels or the heart. Heart disease, stroke and other CVD-related events are examples. Although all heart diseases can be classified as cardiovascular disease, not all heart diseases (stock image).

Participating Countries 

Here are four countries with high incomesCanada, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates

12 countries with middle incomeArgentina, Brazil Chile Chile China Colombia Iran Malaysia Occupied Palestinian Territory Philippines South Africa Turkey

Five low-income countriesBangladesh, India and Pakistan. Tanzania. 

This could include divorce, unemployment, loss of a loved one, and serious illnesses.  

7.3% of participants were subjected to extreme stress. 18.4% to moderate stress; 29.4% to low stress and 44% no stress. 

The people who suffered severe stress were slightly older, had greater risk factors, such as obesity or smoking, and lived in higher-income countries.

Individuals were tracked until March 2021. The median follow-up time was therefore 10 years.

5934, which included myocardial ischemia, stroke and heart failure, occurred during that time. 

High levels of stress increased the likelihood of a cardiovascular event in participants. Heart attack was 22% higher, stroke 30%, and heart attack 24% respectively. 

After adjusting for the differences between high stress and low stress, these elevated risks were discovered. 

A key distinction of this new paper, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, is that stress levels were classified before the cardiovascular events, according to the team. 

Studies that were done in the past sought to assess stress levels among people suffering from strokes or heart attacks. This may have affected their responses.   

The study did not address whether stress is more severe or less chronic, nor whether it differs between income levels. 

Another limitation is the simplicity and subjective nature of the questions that participants are asked and the fact that PURE doesn’t include many countries.  

Several studies have already looked into the link between stress and cardiovascular issues – one study published earlier this year found an elevated level of stress hormones is linked to higher risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular events. 

This research, published in September in the journal Hypertension, followed 400 Americans for more than a decade.

‘Stress hormones norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine and cortisol can increase with stress from life events, work, relationships, finances and more,’ said lead author Kosuke Inoue at Kyoto University in Kyoto, Japan. 

Scientists at Harvard Medical School claimed to directly link anxiety and stress to cardiovascular disease for the first time back in 2017. 


It doesn’t matter if you are worried about giving a presentation to an important meeting at work or getting annoyed waiting in traffic. Stress is a common part of daily life.

The simple act of breathing can calm your nerves within seconds. It does this by tricking the body to think it is relaxed.

You can relax with just a few exhales or inhales by watching this YouTube video called Mind Hack: Combat Anxiety With This Breathing Method.

Jane McGonigal is the best-selling author SuperBetter, and a videogame designer. She describes how the power breath can allow people to relax to a level similar to that of sleep.

Deep breaths in are well-reported, but it isn’t just how much you inhale that matters. It’s also what you inhale.

This method is simple: Exhale for twice the time that you inhale.

Simply put, in order to breathe in, count up to four seconds. Then, count down to eight seconds and slowly exhale.

The nervous system is then switched from “sympathetic” mode (which we associate with fight and flight) to “parasympathetic”, or “rest and digest”.

She suggests that someone who is anxious or stressed should inhale two times and then exhale four.

Gradually increase your inhale time to 8 seconds, and then exhale after some practice.