A broken heart can kill you but chronic job stress has limited danger, according to a position paper from the National Heart Foundation of Australia.

Heart attack survivors who live alone and people exposed to extreme stress from natural disasters or sporting events are at increased risk of heart attack, the paper says.

Sudden emotional stress caused by the death of a loved one may trigger a potentially fatal reaction commonly known as broken heart syndrome, says the paper, which updates the foundation's 2003 consensus statement.

It will be presented on Friday at a Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand conference in Queensland.

The paper, which is based on a study of 10 years of data, busts the popular myth that chronic job stress sharply increases the likelihood of having a heart attack.

"Contrary to popular belief, the effect of job stress on heart disease is limited," says lead author Nick Glozier.

The study highlights risks among people exposed to natural disasters and other conditions of extreme stress, such as tense sporting events.

In the 1996 European football championship quarter-final, in which the Netherlands narrowly lost to France, Dutch men had an increased risk of death from heart attack or stroke, it says.

Similarly, in the 60 days after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, there was a 49 per cent increase in heart attack patients admitted to New York hospitals, compared with the 60 days before the attacks.

"Awareness of the potential for increased cardiovascular risk among populations exposed to natural disasters and other conditions of extreme stress may be useful for emergency services' response planning," says Professor James Tatoulis, Chief Medical Adviser at the Heart Foundation.