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Under Pressure: Can Stress Compromise Your Heart?

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Apart from physical signs like sweaty palms, muscle tension, and upset stomach, stress can also affect your heart and increase your risk of serious cardiovascular problems. This is especially true with excessive stress, which is known to contribute to a number of health issues such as asthma, ulcer, hypertension, obesity, and heart disease.

How stress affects your heart and behaviors

While more study is needed to find out how stress contributes to heart problems, it is important to note that too much it can affect some factors that can raise your risk of heart disease. Your behaviors, for instance, may change as some people cope or try to manage their stress by eating unhealthy foods or overeating, smoking, and drinking excessive alcohol.

Cardiology centers in Orem note that aforementioned coping habits are bad for the heart and your overall health. Overeating, for instance, can cause you to become overweight or obese, which then increases your risk of metabolic syndrome. This refers to a cluster of conditions that can result in heart disease. Smoking and drinking, meanwhile, may damage the artery walls and raise your blood pressure.

This is your body on stress

When you experience stress, your brain sends signals your adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can increase your heartbeat, raise your blood pressure, and send blood to certain parts and organs of the body like your heart and muscles. This combination of reactions, which help you cope with the stressful situation, is known as the fight-or-flight response.

Your body may exhibit a number of responses such as stomach pains, muscle aches, back strain, and headache. It is also likely for stress to deplete your energy, compromise your sleep, and make you feel forgetful and irritable. This can be alarming if stress is constant and your body remains in this state for a couple of days or weeks.

The relation between stress and heart attack

Man having a heart attackAs stress affects the body and heart, you may be wondering if it can cause or contribute to a heart attack. According to studies, severe or sudden stress can raise the heart attack risk, which is especially true for those received traumatic or shocking news, like the death of a loved one. This is known as broken heart syndrome and is a lot more common among women.

The connection between daily stresses like (traffic, relationship problems, and job issues) and heart disease is not exactly defined, but it is suggested that it triggers inflammation and affects the organ in certain ways. This is because stress can cause people to act in ways that can compromise their health and increase their risk of heart disease.

Coping with stress

Managing stress is not just good for your ticker, but also your overall health. There are many ways to do this and you can start with exercise or being physically active. This releases endorphins (feel-good hormones), which then melts stress away and lower your blood pressure. It can also help you maintain your ideal weight and strengthen your heart muscles.

Other things that can help include:

  • Meditation
  • Staying positive
  • Unplugging (avoiding the TV and emails)
  • Stress-relieving activities (like listening to music, reading a book, or taking a bubble bath)
  • Stress management classes

Don’t let stress take your life over. Talk to your doctor or cardiologist about dealing with stress and adopting other habits that can protect your heart.

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