Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

Can Injury-Related Stress Cause a Heart Attack?

Let us assume we have an injured worker, obese, smoker, drinker, high blood pressure…who sustained a back injury and then had a heart attack. He claims that the injury created his heart attack. Is this even logical?

The most common cause of heart attack (myocardial infarction) is not life stressors but a combination of genetics and poor health habits.

However, results from a systematic review of quality-of-life studies in heart disease – connecting stress, depression and loneliness to coronary heart disease were presented during the XXII Congress of the European Society of Cardiology. The findings provide compelling evidence that psychosocial factors may be important determinants of heart disease.

The reviewers noted that their analysis affirms that psychosocial factors exert effects above and beyond lifestyle factors, such as smoking.

The investigators noted that, “although psychological demand and high strain at work may be important determinants of coronary heart disease, the outcome was not statistically…_

Thus, stress may be a factor, but the preponderance of evidence still suggests that physical self-abuse and self-neglect as well as inherited risk factors are the more likely cause of heart attack, not situational events.

Nonetheless, if an injured worker believes that stress is a prominent factor, it is quite important to determine what the patient feels the stressors to be. Mobilization while the stressors are present may be complicated or even improbable.

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