The Link between Stress and Risk of Heart Disease

  • Heart-Disease

What Stress Is

Stress is basically the response to daily demands in life. There is good and bad stress depending on certain situations. Some examples of bad stress could be struggling to pay the rent for an apartment, being late for a critical job interview, feeling overworked in the work setting, or being a single parent that has to take care of 5 children. On the other hand, good stress is making it a goal to stay on the treadmill ten minutes longer than before, having a baby, or passing a final exam. As you can see from some of the examples listed of good and bad stress, the major difference is that bad stress is negative and good stress is positive. It is also important to recognize the symptoms of stress which are irritability, anxiousness, procrastination, eating comfort food, or resorting to alcohol and drugs to escape stress. Additional symptoms include back and headaches.

Stress and Heart Disease

When bad stress repeatedly happens and goes unmanaged, it can lead to serious health risks that can eventually lead to heart disease. Stress can lead to hypertension, high cholesterol and high blood pressure which affect the heart negatively. High blood pressure damages artery walls in the heart. Studies have also shown that acute stress reduces blood flow to the heart which causes your heart to beat irregularly and increases the likelihood of blood clotting.  This then triggers the development of cardiovascular disease. The lining of the blood vessels are also damaged which increases the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the build-up of plaque inside the arteries. Stress also increases excess levels of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol which is unhealthy for the heart as well.

Manage Your Stress

There are various activities that you can do to relax yourself. Getting some fresh air and taking a walk outside serves as a relaxation technique. Other simple tasks can be reading your favorite book, watching a good movie, napping, meditation, having a spa day, or just taking a small break from daily demands! Eliminating and minimizing bad habits to relieve stress such as excessive smoking and drinking is also healthier for the heart. Less stress equals a healthier heart and happier you!





About the Author:

Rahonie Evans, ARNP, has joined Holy Cross Medical Group-Cardiology Associates of Boca Raton. Ms. Evans went to nursing school at Florida Atlantic University and received her MSN Nursing and Advance Registered Nurse Practitioner license in 2009. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and has worked in hospital telemetry and ICU/CCU units. Ms. Evans has experience in interventional and general cardiology and specializes in the management of PT/INR anticoagulation therapy, hypertension, cardiac disease, cardiac arrhythmia and general internal medicine.