Every emotion you experience affects your body in some way. When you watch a scary movie your brain can’t tell that it isn’t real so it immediately begins initiating fear responses, rushing blood to your vital organs and adrenaline coursing through your body, preparing you for fight or flight. Even when you don’t necessarily notice the emotions, your body notices them – and it reacts. So when you are under stress, you may be experiencing it primarily through your emotions, but your body is being affected as well. Often it is your heart that takes the brunt of it.

The Stress and Heart Connection

When your body is under stress, it often causes your blood pressure to rise. It can also increase triglycerides and cholesterol in your blood and increase inflammation in your body. It lowers your threshold for pain so you feel it more acutely making it more difficult to manage. All of these things put a strain on your heart. In some cases, stress can be so extreme it can actually interrupt the rhythm of your heart. The longer your body reacts this way, the longer and harder your heart has to work to do its job. This is not healthy and can cause serious heart problems including heart attack.

Heart Harmful Stress

Not all people react to stress the same way. What may not bother one person in the least will give someone else severe stress reactions. Work, relationships, and life in general can cause stressful feelings. It is difficult to escape but there are certain types that are considered to be the most harmful to the heart. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine Medical Encyclopedia, the types of stress that are worst on the heart include:

  • Anger
  • Loneliness
  • Helplessness
  • Chronic Stress
  • Acute Stress

Managing Stress

The American Heart Association offers some heart healthy stress management advice. A healthy diet, exercise, and maintaining a positive attitude top the list. Often when a person is under stress they will engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking, poor eating habits, poor sleep habits, and drinking too much coffee. The AHA also advocates eliminating those unhealthy behaviors finding healthier ways of managing stress including counseling and relaxation techniques.

Dr. Dilip Mathew is a leading electrophysiologist in the Sarasota and Venice area. He can help you create a plan for managing your stress and protecting your heart while treating you for stress related heart issues you may already be experiencing. If your primary care physician recommends that you talk to a cardiologist or electrophysiologist, contact Dr. Mathew today to schedule your consultation.