Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Heart Disease Health Center

Font Size

Family Stress Linked to Angina Pain

Study Shows Demanding Relationship With a Partner May Have an Impact on Heart Health
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 23, 2010 -- Just in time for those holiday family gatherings comes news that family stress -- especially stress involving spouses and children -- may hurt the heart.

People in a Danish study who reported having a worrisome or demanding relationship with a partner had a more than threefold increased risk for developing the severe chest pain condition known as angina.

Angina is both a warning sign and symptom of heart disease.

Researchers followed more than 4,500 men and women in their 40s and 50s with no known heart problems for six years. Those with the most stressful close family relationships had the highest risk of developing angina.

Study researcher Rikke Lund, MD, PhD, says it has long been known that positive social relationships are good for the heart. “We wanted to look at it another way and examine the impact of difficult social relationships on cardiovascular risk,” she tells WebMD.

Family Stress and the Heart

The randomly selected study participants were followed from 1999 to 2006, when they were asked about both their heart health and the quality of their relationships with the people in their lives, including partners, children, other relatives, friends, and neighbors.

Participants were specifically asked about the level of demand placed on them by family members and friends, the degree of worry associated with each relationship, and the degree and frequency of conflict.

During the six years of follow-up, roughly one in 10 study participants developed chest pains associated with angina.

Not surprisingly, older participants were more likely to report the condition than younger ones.

Having a worrisome or demanding relationship with a spouse or partner was associated with a more than 3.5-fold increase in angina risk, while a similar relationship with a child was associated with a twofold increase in risk.

The association was not quite as strong for other family members, and the impact of worries and demands involving non-family members was negligible.

Surprisingly, conflict with family members was much less strongly linked to angina risk than being in a worrisome or demanding relationship. People who reported having frequent arguments with a partner had a 44% increase in angina risk.

Today on WebMD

x-ray of human heart
A visual guide.
atrial fibrillation
Symptoms and causes.
heart rate graph
10 things to never do.
heart rate
Get the facts.
empty football helmet
red wine
eating blueberries
Simple Steps to Lower Cholesterol
Inside A Heart Attack
Omega 3 Sources
Salt Shockers
lowering blood pressure