What's the connection between stress, heart disease?

What’s the connection between stress, heart disease?

By Emily Miller

Chronic stress – whether it comes from daily traffic, an unhappy marriage, or an unreasonable boss – has been linked to a wide range of harmful health effects, according to the Harvard Medical School.

Stress can interfere with your mood, sleep, and/or appetite. It can even make daily activities – such as interacting with people, dealing with children or work-related tasks– unbearable.

But can stress cause heart disease?

Physicians at the Harvard Medical School have stated that stress can have real physiological effects on the body – including the heart. This is especially true during times of severe or sudden stressful situations, like the death of a loved one or unsettling news could cause such heart attacks, that could trip a mild heart attack.

This condition is known as “broken heart syndrome”, and it is much more common in women – even in those with no history of heart disease, according to Dr. Bhatt in the Harvard Medical Journal.

While broken heart syndrome is often associated with severe forms of stress, the connection between chronic stress – traffic, marriage, or work-related issues – and heart disease is less defined.

“Stress does cause some people to act in ways that increase their risk for heart disease,” said Dr. Bhatt.

For example, people often turn to comfort food, which can clog arteries and increase blood pressure. In other cases, people turn towards heart-damaging behaviors – such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol – that can ultimately increase one’s risk of developing a heart condition.

“I think stress does lead to heart disease, but I think it’s through these established pathways,” said Dr. Bhatt.

The Harvard Medical School provided a list of five heart healthy tips that can relieve stress and deduce your risk of heart disease:

-Stay Positive.

-Meditate.

-Exercise.

-Unplug.

-Find your own “happy place.”

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