How does stress affect your heart?
When you hold on to stress for a long while, it can affect your heart. A sudden shock like the death of a loved one, natural disaster or loss in business can trigger a heart attack. In fact, research has revealed that heart attacks increased significantly post the acute stress of having faced natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.
We usually tend to think of hypertension, poor diet or a lack of exercise as the major reasons leading up to heart disease. However, stress too is one of them.
When the body undergoes physical stress such as exercise or other forms of physical exertion, this increases the demands on the heart. This is usually good, however, if a person has some underlying heart disease, too much physical stress can be dangerous. What happens then is that intense exercise demands too much from the diseased arteries with the result that he heart tends to become ischemic which means that it is starved for oxygen. The result is that the heart can get affected.
Emotional stress is a big factor that can trigger heart attacks and lead to sudden death, this usually happens when a loved one dies. This is known as Takotsubo or stress cardiomyopathy, also called broken heart syndrome. It may even happen during situations such as tense sporting events. The warning signs of heart attack can include pain, pressure, heaviness or tightness in areas such as the chest, neck, jaw, arm(s), shoulder(s), back besides nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, or a cold sweat.
Chronic stress is a continuous strain that wears people down. The common ones are financial problems, unhealthy marriages, demanding jobs, chronic health problems and toxic relationships. This can impact the heart badly leading to heart disease.