A growing body of evidence suggests that psychological factors are — literally — heartfelt, and can contribute to cardiac risk. Stress from all sorts of challenging situations and events plays a significant role in cardiovascular symptoms and outcome, particularly heart attack risk. The same is true for depression, anxiety, anger, hostility, and social isolation. Acting alone, each of these factors heightens your chances of developing heart problems. But these issues often occur together, for example, psychological stress often leads to anxiety, depression can lead to social isolation, and so on.
Does reducing stress, or changing how you respond to it, actually reduce your chances of developing heart disease or having a heart attack? The answer isn’t entirely clear, but many studies suggest the answer is “yes.” There is much to learn about exactly how. Research indicates that constant stress contributes biologically to heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure and the formation of artery-clogging deposits. Other research finds that chronic stress may make it harder to sleep, eat well, quit smoking, and exercise.
Fortunately, you can learn healthier ways to respond to stress that may help your heart and improve your quality of life. These include relaxation exercises (deep breathing, guided imagery), physical activity (walking, yoga), and staying connected with friends, co-workers, family members.
Source: Harvard Medical School Newsletter: Healthbeat