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Hearts And Minds: How Stress And Negative Emotions Affect The Heart

The links between the heart and the mind are harder to measure than those between the heart and the waistline. Despite variations in the prevalence of stress across countries and racial or ethnic groups, increased stress levels conferred a greater risk for heart attack than did hypertension, abdominal obesity, diabetes, and several other risk factors. Researchers at Duke University reviewed medical records for 11,590 people who had undergone testing for heart disease during a three-year period, and then compared monthly heart attack rates with stock market levels. Women who cared for a disabled spouse for at least nine hours a week were significantly more at risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart disease compared with women who had no caregiving duties, according to findings from the Nurses' Health Study. People who had high levels of stress immediately after the attacks were nearly twice as likely to develop high blood pressure and more than three times as likely to develop heart problems during the following two years compared with those who had low stress levels. Not only does depression appear to promote heart disease, but it can also result from a heart attack. Although Type D's appear to have poorer outcomes from heart disease, a 2011 study found no evidence of compromised heart function in people with Type D personality without documented heart disease.

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