Stress & Heart Health: The Connection

HEART BLOG 8.17.17Stress is an inevitable aspect of life. Whether it’s the stress of meeting deadlines at work or school, managing your finances, or juggling multiple obligations between family and friends, stress is something that is part of our daily lives.  Not only can stress leave you feeling mentally exhausted, it can also produce very real physiologic symptoms that may affect your heart.

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called adrenaline, which helps you prepare to deal with whatever stressful situation you encounter. Adrenaline also stimulates your heart muscle in the process. If chronic stress is a factor in your life – leaving your heart prone to excessive amounts of adrenaline – you may be more likely to develop an irregular heart rhythm, which can lead to poor blood circulation.

There are many coping strategies for stress, some of which may do more harm than good. Cigarette smoking, for example, is a common coping mechanism because of the stress relieving sensation that comes from nicotine. However, cigarette smoking can lead to a plethora of cardiovascular diseases.

Everyone reacts to stress differently. It’s important to try a variety of coping strategies until you find the one that works best for you. Test out some of these coping strategies to reduce your stress and take care of your heart at the same time:

  • Stay optimistic: This doesn’t mean that you ignore the stressful triggers in your life, but rather that you learn how to deal with stress in a productive way. Studies have even shown that optimistic people may live longer – and with better heart health – compared to pessimists.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity releases a hormone called endorphins, which promotes feelings of positivity in your brain while simultaneously boosting your heart health.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises are all simple strategies that you can use to put your mind (and heart) at ease on a stressful day. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this video from one of our Interventional Cardiologists, Dr. Sumant Lamba, for tips on how to reduce your risk of heart disease.

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