Tachycardia, irregular heartbeats, or a feeling of tightness in the chest do not always indicate a serious heart health condition . Sometimes behind it is a big problem of stress . We experience many beautiful events, but also sad, annoying or frustrating events that we take very seriously. And there is exactly the cause of the symptoms described.

Intense moments of stress  are not harmless, on the contrary, various depressive symptoms, panic syndrome and anxiety have stress as a common ingredient. Besides affecting mental health, stress can also cause physical problems; and the heart may be one of those affected.

When stress is experienced as chronic, the initial transient symptoms can lead to real cardiovascular problems : vessels become damaged, high blood pressure develops, and the risk of heart attack and stroke increases. It is important to avoid this in good time. Stressors should be perceived and, if possible, eliminated. Unfortunately, this is not always easy.

Effects of stress on heart health

In some cases we find stress quite positive. We literally grow beyond ourselves, focus on our work, and master unknown tasks in an instant. However, stress generally does the opposite : we push ourselves, we fear difficult problem solving, we become discouraged and frustrated.

This form of stress, especially if it puts us under constant pressure, has double negative effects . On the one hand, we tend to maintain an unhealthy lifestyle under stress . You start smoking frequently, you create a habit of drinking one or another supposedly relaxing glass of wine, and eating chocolate to comfort yourself and help relieve stress.

Instead of a refreshing walk, we prefer to enjoy our TV show on the couch. This alone greatly increases our risk of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, chronic stress also has very specific effects on the health of the heart and vascular system . Under stress, our body produces many stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which in turn affect our nervous and immune systems .

The heart beats irregularly or faster, inflammatory processes in the body begin to appear, blood vessels constrict. It’s about hypertension and permanent overuse of the heart. In such conditions, a fit of anger can trigger a heart attack .

Noticing the symptoms of stress, and recognizing the causes

Symptoms of increased stress include several, such as sleep disturbances, anxiety, tiredness, even fatigue, or the feeling of being constantly under the pressure of time. Stress at work, family problems, separations or deaths can be the cause of this . In extreme cases, a grief or a special situation of mental stress even leads to the so-called broken heart syndrome, a painful cramp of the heart muscle similar to a heart attack.

Stress Strategies for Heart Health

Unfortunately, stress cannot always be avoided . Of the many strategies for coping with stress, all select the appropriate ones individually: relaxation techniques provide rest, but only if practiced regularly. Sport removes adrenaline and therefore increased stress is outside the body.

Making or listening to music can be very relaxing. A healthy and nutrient-rich diet in addition to permanently eliminating the use of nicotine and alcohol strengthens the immune system and makes our body less vulnerable . And with a healthy dose of reassurance, you can overcome many stressful situations.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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