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HOW STRESS CAN LEAD TO HEART DISEASES

by The Welthi Bureau, September 29th, 2021

how stress can lead to heart diseases
 Image used for representational purpose only

Today is World Heart Day, an event that has been celebrated by the World Health Organization. It was started to increase awareness of cardiovascular conditions and how lifestyle choices can affect them. Stress is a normal part of life, but if left unmanaged, it can lead to emotional, psychological and physical problems. Stress is recognized as an important risk factor predisposing to heart disease.

 

How does stress increase the risk for heart disease?

 

Stress can lead to heart disease either directly by itself (or) indirectly by aggravating other risk factors for heart disease says "Dr. RAMESH GUDAPATI, MD, DM, Consultant Cardiologist, Star Hospitals. Stress leads to elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which increase the risk of heart attack. Hormonal and neurochemical changes in the body due to stress aggravate the blood pressure, cholesterol levels and sugar levels. When a person is stressed he exercises less, there is a tendency to overeat, smoke more, consume excess of alcohol and have disturbed sleep. All of these can increase the risk of heart attacks   In individuals who already have preexisting heart disease, sudden stress can lead to heart attacks. Sudden stress disrupts the lining of the blood vessel walls and increases clotting tendency of blood thereby leading to sudden total occlusion of blood vessels supplying the heart, resulting in heart attacks.

 

 Even in those individuals who do not have heart problem, long term stress can lead to blockages in heart blood vessels leading to heart attacks. Sudden severe stress can cause severe irregularity in heart beat leading to sudden cardiac death. Severe stress can also depress the heart muscle function leading to heart failure (Takotsubo cardiomyopathy) Scientific trials have shown that chronic work stress and marital discord increased the risk of cardiovascular mortality in men on long term follow-up. To quote the late dutch internist Johannes Groen “What can a person to do, where can he go if he is unhappy at work and at home? To an early grave”.

 

What are the warning signs of stress?

 

   Symptoms can vary from individual to individual. Excess stress can manifest itself in a variety of emotional, behavioral and physical symptoms.

  • Common physical symptoms include sleep disturbances, muscleaches, headache and severe fatigue.
  • Emotional and behavioral symptoms that can accompany excess stress include nervousness, anxiety, loss of enthusiasm and energy, excessive mood changes like irritability, depression, changes in eating habits like over eating (or) loss of appetite etc.

None of these signs (or) symptoms are specific for stress and can be caused by other medical (or) psychological conditions as well.

 

Who is most vulnerable to stress?

 

Stress comes in many forms and affects people of all ages and all walks of life. The degree of stress in our lives is highly dependent upon individual factors such as our physical health, quality of our interpersonal relationships, the number of commitments and responsibilities we carry, the degree of others dependence upon us, expectations of us, the amount of support we receive from others and the number of changes (or) traumatic events that have recently occurred in our lives.

 

 People with adequate social support networks report less stress and overall improved mental health in comparison to those without adequate social support. People who are poorly nourished, who get inadequate sleep, or who are physically unwell also have a reduced capacity to handle pressures and stresses of everyday life and may report higher stress levels.

 

What causes stress?

 

            Stress can be caused by a variety of factors that requires you to adjust (or) respond. Some of the common factors that can lead to stress include.

  • Illness either personal (or) of a family member (or) friend.
  • Death of a friend (or) loved one.
  • Problems in a personal relationship.
  • Work overload.
  • Starting a new job.
  • Unemployment.
  • Retirement.
  • Crowds.
  • Relocation.
  • Daily hassles.
  • Legal problems.
  • Financial concerns.
  • Perfectionism.

 

How to cope with stres?

 

There are many techniques you can use to manage stress. Some of which you can learn yourself, while other techniques may require the guidance of a trained therapist.

 

Some common techniques for coping with stress include:

 

  1. Eat and drink sensibly:  Abusing alcohol and food may seem to reduce stress, but it actually adds to it.
  2. Stop smoking: Aside from the obvious health risk of cigarettes, nicotine acts as a stimulant and brings on more stress symptoms.
  3. Exercise regularly: Apart from improving physical fitness aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins (natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude).
  4. Reduce causes of stress: Many people find life is filled with too many demands and too little time. For the most part, these demands are ones we have chosen. Effective time management skills involve asking for help when appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself and taking timeout for yourself.
  5. Set realistic goals and expectations:  It’s ok and healthy to realise you cannot be 100% successful all the time.
  6. Get enough rest and sleep.
  7. Maintain a positive attitude:  A positive attitude and self esteem are good defenses against stress and heart disease because they help you to view stress as a challenge rather than a problem.
  8. Yoga, meditation etc can help you to relax better.

 

Conclusion:

            Stress is a normal part of life, but unmanaged stress can increase the risk of heart disease. Its important to determine your stress triggers and either avoid them (or) learn to handle them is a way that reduces your stress.
 

Book Appointment;: Dr. RAMESH GUDAPATI, MD, DM, Consultant Cardiologist, Star Hospitals.


 Disclaimer: Welthi.com does not guarantee any specific results as a result of the procedures mentioned here, and the results may vary from person to person. Read more
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