HEALTH – Beware of people who complain of an effect of stress on health: they are twice as likely to have a heart attack than those who did not report stressed, according to a study made public Thursday.

Conducted by an Inserm research team in collaboration with English and Finnish researchers with 7268 British officials included in the cohort Whitehall II (incorporated in 1985), the study showed that people who reported at the beginning of the study their health as “very or extremely” affected by stress had a 2.12-fold increased risk of having or dying from a heart attack.

Participants were also asked about their perceptions of their stress levels, as well as other factors that may affect their health, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and physical activity levels , blood pressure, diabetes, or on data such as age or socioeconomic status.

The researchers found that the association between perceived stress and coronary risk remained even when put aside all other risk factors for coronary heart disease, whether biological (such as hypertension or diabetes), behavioral or psychological.

Detect stress

“The main message is that patients’ complaints about the impact of stress on health should not be ignored in clinical settings, which may indicate an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease and dying” notes Hermann Nabi, the head of the INSERM team that participated.

“We realized that people are able to assess fairly accurately the impact of stress on their health,” he adds.

The ability to cope with stress differs greatly among individuals, because of the resources available to them, such as support of the entourage; remind researchers whose work was published last week in the medical journal European Heart Journal.

According to a study by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, published in 2012, about 20% of employees believe their health is affected by work stress problems.