Researchers at Inserm medical research institute in Villejuif observed more than 7,000 civil service workers over a period of 18 years. The participants had an average age of 49.5 years and were asked about how much they felt their health was being affected by day-to-day stress. The participants' lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and exercise, and their medical background were also recorded by the researchers.
The researchers found that the risk of heart attack was double among those who felt that stress was harming their health 'a lot or extremely' compared to those who said it had no significant effects while the risk was 49 percent after taking other factors into account. The study has been published in the European Heart Journal.
"We found that the association we observed between an individual's perception of the impact of stress on their health and their risk of a heart attack was independent of biological factors, unhealthy behaviors and other psychological factors. Our findings show that responses to stress or abilities to cope with stress differ greatly between individuals, depending on the resources available to them, such as social support, social activities and previous experiences of stress", lead researcher Dr Hermann Nabi said.