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Stress and Illness. Stress, on its own, does not make you ill It may increase your risk of illness Stress has been linked to: Cardiovascular disorders Immune depression. Increased Risk of Disease. Stress and Illness.

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Stress and Illness

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stress and illness
Stress and Illness
  • Stress, on its own, does not make you ill
  • It may increase your risk of illness
  • Stress has been linked to:
    • Cardiovascular disorders
    • Immune depression

stress and illness2

Increased Risk of Disease

Stress and Illness

Direct biological effects e.g. physical strain, hormonal changes

Maladaptive coping behaviour e.g. smoking, drinking alcohol


Emotionally mediated effects on diet and activity level

heart disease risk factors







High LDL cholesterol





High c-reactive protein

Heart Disease – Risk Factors

stress heart disease
Stress & Heart Disease
  • Friedman & Rosenman (1974)
  • Assessed 3200 healthy American men.
  • Stress-prone individuals (Type As) were identified:
    • Anger & hostility
    • Competitiveness
    • Time-urgency

stress heart disease5
Stress & Heart Disease
  • After 8½ years, men were reassessed
    • 257 had developed CHD
    • Of these, 70% were Type As
  • Association remained when smoking and other lifestyle factors were accounted for

stress heart disease6
Stress & Heart Disease
  • Kivimaki et al (2002)
    • Highly stressed workers were 2x as likely to die from heart problems
  • Sheps et al (2002)
    • Stress-prone individuals with heart problems 3x more likely to die from heart attack
  • Steptoe et al (2005)
    • Stress-prone individuals more likely to accumulate LDL ‘bad’ blood cholesterol

stress heart disease7
Stress & Heart Disease
  • Stress increases risk of cardiovascular disease – but is not a direct causal factor
    • Effect is mediated by personality (stress prone-ness)
  • The mechanism is complex
    • Direct effects and lifestyle-mediated ones are both likely to be important
  • Stress effects are clearest with pre-existing CHD
    • If you have CHD stress will probably make it worse
    • But we still don’t know if stress causes CHD initially