Question: How does stress affect my cardiac condition, is it dangerous when I have angina, and how about stress after a heart attack?
Answer: There has been an awful lot of research documenting that if you already have heart disease -- if you already had a heart attack or have been diagnosed with heart disease by angiography or other tests -- that stress puts you at a higher risk for having some bad events happen to you.
People who've had a heart attack, who have low levels of social support, are more likely to die in the next few years. People who meet criteria for depression following a heart attack are actually four to five times more likely to die in the next six months following the heart attack. People who have chronic stress at work -- high demands, low control over how you meet those demands -- when they're followed up over two to four years, are about twice as likely to die as people whose jobs do not impose that kind of stress.
So once you have heart disease, I'm afraid I have to tell you that the stress story is even more dire than before you develop heart disease.
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