Stress and cardiovascular disease: an update on current knowledge

Annu Rev Public Health. 2013:34:337-54. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031912-114452. Epub 2013 Jan 7.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Coronary Disease / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / etiology
  • Myocardial Infarction / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*