Background. Recent mortality profiles in Brazil show that circulatory diseases are the leading cause of death in Brazil. These disorders contribute to 34% of deaths, with 50% of those deaths occurring in people under 50 years of age, that is, in people who are still active in the workforce. We assume that the growing incidence of cardiovascular diseases has occurred as the globalization of Brazil continues and brings with it the associated health risk factors of modern lifestyles, including stress.
Aim. This paper reports the evidence on the influence of stress in the development, onset and progress of cardiovascular diseases. We aim to define the concept of stress and to point systematically to the interrelationships between its emotional and bodily manifestations through a discussion of the history and study of stress. We then suggest that factors leading to the experience of stress in Brazil are no different than in any other modern nation. We further offer a perspective on nursing interventions currently undertaken in Brazil in both hospital and community settings, with their more recent emphasis on health promotion and prevention.
Methods. An extensive literature review was undertaken. The data presented here were selected from reviews and clinical studies described in MEDLINE, LILACS, SciELO databases, as well as in the classical literature. We also refer to the current Brazilian literature on the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases and their associated risk factors.
Conclusions. The incidence of cardiovascular diseases in Brazil is rising. Because of the globalization of Brazilian society, with its consequent competitiveness and accelerated modern lifestyles, Brazilians are no less immune to the usual health risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases. Stresses associated with a modern lifestyle, however, are emerging as a new and major risk for developing cardiovascular diseases in Brazil.