Thursday, 5 March 2015

Stress May Undermine Heart Benefits of Exercise


Study found teens who lacked coping skills faced raised heart risks that physical fitness did not counter

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who have trouble coping with stress may face an increased risk for future heart trouble that even exercise can't erase, a new study suggests.

"It looks like the inability to cope well with stress contributes to the risk of heart disease," said lead researcher Scott Montgomery, a professor of epidemiology at Orebro University in Sweden.

Montgomery said what he found "striking" was that physical fitness did not protect teens with poor stress-coping skills from developing heart disease later in life.

"Exercise is important," Montgomery said. "But maybe we have to think about exercise and physical fitness in the context of coping with stress, particularly with people who have had a heart attack."

For these people, both exercise and developing strategies to reduce stress might be needed to prevent more heart problems, Montgomery said.

But one expert noted that the study only involved males and only measured stress-coping skills once.

For those teens in the study who struggled with stress, also known as low stress resilience, the risk for heart disease increased by 54 percent and the risk of dying from heart disease increased 110 percent.

"Not only are you more likely to have a heart attack, but you are more likely to have a severe heart attack," Montgomery said.

He noted that low stress resilience isn't something one is born with. "Experiments in animals suggest that exposures to stress very early in life influence our ability to cope with stress. If we have a lot of very early stress, we are less able to cope with it later on," Montgomery explained.

For people with low stress resilience, even minor events can be extremely stressful, and the effects will last longer than among people better able to cope, Montgomery said.

"We know from other studies that very stressful events can cause heart attacks. If you have a low stress resilience and something more serious happens, it can have injurious consequences to the heart," he said.

The report was published online March 4 in the journal Heart.

source : Stress May Undermine Heart Benefits of Exercise

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