Relation between Stress and Heart Disease

Relation between Stress and Heart DiseaseStress releases fatty acids and glucose into the circulating blood stream. These can be converted into natural fat and cholesterol and deposited on arterial walls (atherosclerosis). These deposits build up a resistance due to blood flow through the arteries and make a contribution to high blood pressure.

Chronic mental stress increases blood pressure as well as cholesterol and therefore leads to chronic hypertension. Stress releases hormones which can increase susceptibility to blood clotting. Stress increases the likelihood of smoking and using caffeinated foods and beverages. Smoking cigarettes raises a person's heart rate up to +14 beats per minute. This effect, when combined with stress, can increase the heart rate up to +38 beats per minute. The effects of caffeine are similiar to cigarettes. In the chronically stressed individual the repair and healing systems of the human body are compromised and this leads to increased damage and slower repair of injuries.

Along with cardiovascular problems, stress can also cause muscular, respiratory and skin problems, sexual problems, gastrointestinal and eating disorders as well as chemical dependence. We refer to these conditions as stress-related disorders. These may lead to illness, disease, chronic disease and even death. Stress increases your risk of heart attack and death from heart disease.

Proper health habits can have a protective effect against stress and depression. Regular physical activity relieves stress and depression and lowers the chance of heart disease. Taking part in a stress management program may decrease the chance of more heart problems for those who have heart disease. By attending stress management programs, you can come up with new ways of facing everyday challenges.

Some tips on how you can lower your stress:

  • Take a deep breath. This helps your muscles relax.
  • Close your eyes and rest for a while.
  • Think of relaxing things.
  • Do some exercise or simply take a walk.
  • Eat right. Limit foods with fat and sugar.
  • Talk to a friend about your troubles.
  • Change the things that cause you to stress.
  • Focus on the good things in your life!

If you find yourself feeling down for a long time, talk with your doctor about how to get help. Keep in mind that help from family, friends, and other heart patients can help as well.