Psychosocial Stress Increases the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women

There are many events in life that have the potential to cause psychosocial stress , such as a sick family member, death of a spouse, or divorce. And, this psychosocial stress can lead to an increased risk of coronary heart disease in women.

Stress Increases

The study, led by researchers at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, was recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. This study specifically focuses on the effects of work tension and social tension on women.

Job tensions occur when a woman does not have sufficient strength at work to respond to job demands and expectations. And they were associated with a 21 percent higher risk of developing coronary heart disease .

The study also found that high-stress life events, such as the death of a spouse, divorce / separation or physical or verbal abuse, and social tension, were independently associated with a 12 percent and 9 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease, respectively.

The Drexel study used data from a nationally representative sample of 80,825 postmenopausal women from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, which tracked participants from 1991 to 2015, to find better methods of preventing cancer, heart disease, and osteoporosis in women.

In a current follow-up study, Drexel researchers evaluated the effects of psychosocial stress on work stress, stressful life events and social tension (via surveys), and the associations between these forms of stress, on coronary heart disease.

Nearly 5 percent of women developed coronary heart disease during the study which lasted 14 years for seven months. Adjusting for age, time at work, and socioeconomic characteristics, high stress life events were associated with a 12 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease , and high social tension was associated with a 9 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease. Work stress was not independently associated with coronary heart disease.

Coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, occurs when the heart’s arteries become narrow and unable to carry enough oxygenated blood to the heart.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the continuing pressure on women to balance paid work and social stressors. We know from other studies that work stress may play a role in developing coronary heart disease, but now we can better demonstrate the combined impact of stress at work and at home on these adverse health outcomes, “said senior researcher Yvonne Michael, ScD, SM. , a professor at the Dornsife School of Public Health.

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