London: Researchers have found that, just thinking about being stressed can make individuals fall seriously ill and increase the chance of suffering a heart attack.

It was found, while following more than 7,000 civil servants over a period of up to 18 years, how the increased perception of stress almost doubled the risk of suffering a heart attack.

This is the first time a link has been discovered between heart disease and people's own view on how stress is affecting their health.

This suggests the doctors should take a patients' perspective into account when managing stress-related complaints. It could also means that helping patients to unwind can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Participants, who had an average age of 49.5, were asked to what extent they felt day-to-day stress had affected their health. Besides taking their medical background into account, they were also asked about personal lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet, and exercise.

Lead author Hermann Nabi, from the Inserm medical research institute in Villejuif, France, said, "We found that the association we observed between an individual's perception of the impact of stress on their health and their risk of a heart attack was independent of biological factors, unhealthy behaviours and other psychological factors.”


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