Stress & Coronary Disease: Give Your Heart a Break

Doctor Resting Head on Wall


When you're under stress, the toll isn't just on your nerves. Unmanaged stress can lead to high blood pressure, arterial damage, irregular heart rhythms and a weakened immune system. Recent research shows that people under chronic stress are at higher risk for heart disease:

  • In a study of 17,000 female health professionals, women whose work is highly stressful had a 40% increased risk of heart disease (including heart attacks and the need for coronary artery surgery) compared with their less-stressed colleagues.
  • According to the American Institute of Stress, the incidence of heart attacks and sudden death have been shown to increase significantly following the acute stress of natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.  
  • Depression has been proven to be a such a risk factor in cardiac disease that the American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended that all cardiac patients be screened for depression. The "fight or flight" response to stress has physical symptoms including spikes in blood pressure and elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. In addition, stress often causes behavioral and lifestyle changes, such as overeating, lack of exercise, and increased use of tobacco and alcohol.

While stress is often caused by factors outside your control-- natural disasters, serious illnesses, unreasonable bosses or co-workers, loss of loved ones--you can limit the damage stress causes to your body by learning to manage it more effectively.

We can help.

Questions about stress & coronary disease? If you or a family member is having health concerns, call VITAL WorkLife. We can help you evaluate your symptoms, develop better habits and suggest ways to help you get the advice you need.

Call VITAL WorkLife any time, day or night, for the support you and your family need.


EAP members: call 800.383.1908
Physician/Provider Wellness Resources members: call 877.731.3949

For more information

For more information about our comprehensive suite of well being solutions, call 800.383.1908.

About VITAL WorkLife

VITAL WorkLife, Inc.™ is a national behavioral health consulting company providing support to individuals facing life’s challenges, while also assisting organizations in improving workplace productivity. This approach of helping employees and their families, while also guiding organizations, builds healthy, sustainable behaviors. For over 30 years, we have offered industry leading proactive support programs, specialized service, training, interventions and consulting for healthcare. Visit us at

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VITAL WorkLife

We help organizations, teams and individuals to be their best. VITAL WorkLife, Inc. is a national behavioral health consulting practice supporting all dimensions of well being in the workplace. For over 35 years, our proven solutions have helped to reduce workplace conflict, facilitate culture change, strengthen interpersonal communication and build well being.