Stress and Its Impact on Heart Health

Stress and Its Impact on Heart Health

Life can be stressful under normal circumstances, but recent events (think global pandemic) have brought stress levels to an all-time high for many. While your body’s stress response is designed to save your life, ongoing levels of stress in your body can exact a toll on your health, including your heart health.

As cardiology experts, Dr. Madaiah Revana and the team here at Humble Cardiology Associates want to do all that we can to minimize the factors that place your heart health at risk, and stress is one such factor.

Here’s a look.

The human stress response

When you face a perceived threat, your body initiates a stress response that’s designed to keep you safe. Called the flight-or-fight response, here’s a look at what happens, physiologically, when you encounter a stressful situation and your body release stress hormones. 

You experience:

Each of these physiological reactions is initiated to help you either stand your ground (fight) or flee (flight) a dangerous situation. And these reactions are meant to be only temporary, helping you to weather the immediate danger.

When you remain in a state of heightened alert, however, the prolonged stress reaction can affect many areas of your health, including your heart health.

Stress and your heart

As we can see by the list of physical responses above, being stuck in a state of stress causes your heart to work harder for longer periods. Aside from a higher heart rate, stress can lead to system-wide inflammation, which can negatively impact your cholesterol levels

Another heart-related problem caused by stress is lack of sleep. When you have high levels of stress, you may not be sleeping well, which can lead to hypertension.

To illustrate the effect that stress can have on your heart health, we want to draw your attention to two studies that serve as examples. In the first, researchers found that people who are worried about losing their jobs are 20% more likely to have heart disease than those who are secure in their careers. 

In the second study, which came out of Duke University Health, the findings were similar, though the scenario was different. Women who have been divorced at least once are more likely to have heart attacks than married women.

Relieving stress for better heart health

There are many techniques for relieving stress, and choosing one that suits your lifestyle is important. 

To give you some ideas, these are some of the more common stress-relief methods:

While we’ve concentrated on the heart-related consequences of ongoing stress, the fact is that reducing stress is a great step toward improving your overall physical and mental health.

If you have more questions about the connection between stress and your heart health, contact one of our offices in Humble or Houston, Texas.

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