The heartbreaking effects of stress

Like I just mentioned, high cholesterol won't raise your heart risk. But high stress? That's another story altogether.

Stress can rip you apart from the inside, and literally drive you crazy. But even worse, it can drive you right into the grave -- and stark new numbers in the Lancet show how you'd better get a handle on it before your ticker turns into a time bomb.

Job strain -- or stress from a lousy, soul-sucking job or an irritating know-it-all boss -- can increase your risk of heart attack and death from heart problems by nearly a quarter, according to data on 200,000 people who took part in one of 13 studies.

Those studies were all in Europe, but I'm sure it's the same deal here, if not worse -- and that's hardly the only way stress, anxiety and other forms of angst can do you in.

As I told you just a couple of weeks back, high levels of this stuff can increase your risk of stroke by up to 40 percent.

But don't quit your job in a huff, either, since only a fool would walk away from a steady paycheck in this day and age. I don't know if you've checked the headlines lately, but they're not exactly giving them away.

Instead, find a way to keep cashing those checks without cashing in yourself -- and that means finding some safe outlet for your stress.

Easier said than done? Sure. But get it done -- because the alternative is a fate much worse than a lousy job.