It was known that cumulative exposure to daily stressful situations and traumatic stress can hike the risk of cardiovascular disease. Increasingly, research suggests the mind can positively or negatively affect cardiovascular health as well as outlook. Dr Kosuke Inoue, study author and assistant professor of social epidemiology at Japan’s Kyoto University, said: “The stress hormones norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine and cortisol can increase with stress from life events, work, relationships, finances and more.” He added: “We confirmed that stress is a key factor contributing to the risk of hypertension [raised blood pressure] and cardiovascular events.
“It is important to examine the impact of stress on adults in the general population because it provides new information about whether routine measurement of stress hormones needs to be considered to prevent hypertension and cardiovascular disease.”
Researchers studied 412 adults – roughly split equally between men and women – aged 48 to 87, who were Hispanic, black or white.
Analysis, published in the scientific journal Hypertension, found that over an average six and a half-year follow-up, each time the levels of the four stress hormones doubled it was associated with a 21 to 31 percent rise in the risk of hypertension.
There was also a 90 percent bigger risk of cardiovascular events with each doubling of cortisol levels.
Dr Inoue said: “It is challenging to study psychosocial stress since it is personal. The next key research question is whether and in which populations increased testing of stress hormones could be helpful.
“Currently, these hormones are measured only when hypertension with an underlying cause or other related diseases are suspected.
“However, if additional screening could help prevent hypertension and cardiovascular events, we may want to measure these hormone levels more frequently.”