Mental stress, while not previously linked directly to cardiovascular heart disease, is being seen as more of a culprit these days, according to medical experts.

Even when heart disease patients can pass stress tests done on a treadmill or with chemical stressors after treatment, their hearts may still suffer silent ischemia during mental stress, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Silent ischmia is a condition where a person suffers inadequate blood flow through the blood vessels of the heart muscle but experiences no symptoms.

The results tend to support proposals that mental stress works through a different mechanism than physical stress. This study did not explore the possible mechanisms, but the researchers noted that some hypotheses include effects on very small blood vessels in the heart muscle or on the endothelium, the inner layer of blood vessels that helps control responses to changes in blood flow.

Bottom line: we should all try to better manage our daily stress levels.

Source: Science Daily at

Resources and Tools for Stress

Share the Load Program
National Volunteer Fire Council
This fire and EMS support program provides tools and resources for addressing a variety of behavioral health issues, including stress, anxiety, and PTSD.

Fire/EMS Helpline
The NVFC has partnered with American Addiction Centers to provide a toll-free helpline that first responders and their families can call to get help with anything effecting their work or personal life, including stress, anxiety, or PTSD. Call the helpline at 1-888-731-FIRE (3473).

Firefighter Life Safety Initiative 13
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Getting a Handle on Stress
By David W. Ballard, PsyD, American Psychological Association

Take Action to Control Stress
American Heart Association

Stress at Work
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

Working with Stress
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

APA Help Center
American Psychological Association

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