Social support buffers the negative effects of stress in cardiac patients: a cross-sectional study with acute coronary syndrome patients

  • Simona Wiesmaierova
  • Dafina PetrovaEmail author
  • Antonio Arrebola Moreno
  • Andrés Catena
  • José Antonio Ramírez Hernández
  • Rocio Garcia-Retamero


Cardiac patients who have social support generally have better prognosis than patients who lack social support. Several theoretical mechanisms have been proposed to explain this protective effect, including the capacity of social support to buffer the negative effects of stress. We tested this buffering effect in a study of patients hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) in Spain. Several days after the cardiac event patients answered a questionnaire measuring stressful events during their lifetime, perceived social support around the time of the cardiac event, and depression symptoms in the past week. Results showed that stressful life events were related to depressive symptoms and worse renal function post-ACS only among patients with low perceived social support. Among patients who reported enough social support, lifetime stress was not related to depressive symptoms. No similar effects were observed on other prognostic indicators such as troponin levels or the number of obstructed arteries. These results suggest that social support can buffer the negative effects of stress on the mental and physical well-being of cardiac patients.


Social support Mental health Stress Depression Cardiovascular disease 



This research is part of the self-funded project “PySCA: Study on the impact of psychological factors in acute coronary syndrome” (Principal Investigator: JARH). Dafina Petrova is supported by a Juan de la Cierva Fellowship (FJCI-2016-28279) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Competitiveness. Financial support was partially provided by the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Spain) (PSI2011-22954 and PSI2014-51842-R).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Simona Wiesmaierova, Dafina Petrova, Antonio Arrebola Moreno, Andrés Catena, José Antonio Ramírez Hernández and Rocio Garcia-Retamero declare independence from the funding agencies and do not have conflicts of interest including financial interests, activities, relationships, and affiliations.

Ethical approval

The Ethics Committee of the University Hospital Virgen de las Nieves in Granada, Spain, provided approval for the study.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mind, Brain, and Behavior Research CenterUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Escuela Andaluza de Salud PúblicaGranadaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto de Investigación Biosanitaria ibs.GRANADAUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  4. 4.CIBER of Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP)MadridSpain
  5. 5.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of GranadaGranadaSpain
  6. 6.Cardiology DepartmentUniversity Hospital Virgen de las NievesGranadaSpain
  7. 7.Harding Center for Risk LiteracyMax Planck Institute for Human DevelopmentBerlinGermany

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