Disentangling the Links Between Psychosocial Stress and Cardiovascular Disease

Circ Cardiovasc Imaging. 2020 Aug;13(8):e010931. doi: 10.1161/CIRCIMAGING.120.010931. Epub 2020 Aug 14.


Stress is a pervasive component of the human experience. While often considered an adversity to be ignored, chronic stress has important pathological consequences, including cardiovascular disease (CVD). Stress also increases the prevalence and severity of several CVD risk factors, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and obesity. Yet even after adjustment, stress' attributable CVD risk is similar to those risk factors, suggesting it is a particularly potent contributor. Nevertheless, there has been insufficient study of mechanisms linking stress to CVD or of methods to attenuate stress' pathological impact. This review covers the current concepts of how stress impacts CVD and emerging approaches to mitigate stress-attributable CVD risk.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases; humans; hypertension; psychological distress; risk adjustment; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / psychology
  • Cardiovascular System / physiopathology*
  • Heart Disease Risk Factors
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stress, Psychological* / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological* / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological* / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological* / psychology