What Is Stress Cardiomyopathy
Stress cardiomyopathy is a condition in which severe emotional or physical stress causes the heart muscles to weaken quickly and sometimes severely.
Emotional stressors that cause this condition could be grief, fear, or surprise, while physical stressors that may lead to stress cardiomyopathy include asthma or pain from an accident.
Stress cardiomyopathy is also known as broken-heart syndrome or takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Although complications might occur, people with this condition are usually able to make a full recovery in a couple of weeks. It also causes no permanent damage to the heart, unlike other heart conditions.
It can occur at any age but has been observed to affect more women than men. Its a rare form of cardiomyopathy. According to the American College of Cardiology, 15 to 30 cases of the condition occur in every 100,000 heart conditions, each year in the United States. However, this number could be higher, as milder forms are less likely to be reported or receive medical treatment.
Can Coronavirus Cause Heart Damage
Can COVID-19 damage the heart? Yes: Although COVID-19 the disease caused by the coronavirus thats led to the global pandemic is primarily a respiratory or lung disease, the heart can also suffer.
Early reports coming out of China and Italy, two areas where COVID-19 took hold earlier in the pandemic, show that up to 1 in 5 patients with the illness end up with heart damage. Heart failure has been the cause of death in COVID-19 patients, even those without severe breathing problems such as acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS.
Not all heart problems related to this coronavirus officially called SARS-CoV-2are alike, however. Cardiologist Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S., explains the different ways the virus and the bodys response to it can cause heart damage.
He Believes His Heart Attack Was Caused By Emotional Stress Rather Than High Cholesterol
People defined stress in different ways for instance one man said he relished the stress of his challenging job but that some of the hassle of everyday life such as running out of petrol or forgetting to collect his wife’s dry cleaning could be stressful enough to bring on palpitations.
People also talked about feeling extremely anxious about themselves and their illness, . One man felt so anxious about being ill at night that he was reluctant to be alone. Someone else said that worrying about things beyond her control could ‘eat away’ at her.
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Stress Cardiomyopathy: A Different Kind Of Heart Attack
- By Deepak L. Bhatt, M.D., M.P.H, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter
Most heart attacks are due to coronary arteries being blocked by blood clots that form when plaques of cholesterol rupture. The lack of blood flow through the blocked arteries results in heart muscle dying hence the name “heart attack.” However, there is another form of heart attack called takotsubo cardiomyopathy.
Over the past few years, physicians have come to recognize and better understand this form of heart attack. This unusual type of heart attack does not involve rupturing plaques or blocked blood vessels. It is called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress cardiomyopathy. Japanese doctors, who were the first to describe this condition, named it “takotsubo” because during this disorder, the heart takes on a distinctive shape that resembles a Japanese pot used to trap an octopus. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy was commonly believed to be caused by sudden emotional stress, such as the death of a child, and to be far less harmful than a typical heart attack. For that reason, some had also labeled this condition “broken-heart syndrome.”
As awareness of takotsubo cardiomyopathy increases among physicians and patients, I suspect we will be recognizing even more cases of takotsubo cardiomyopathy in the future. The condition certainly does not appear to be as rare as was suspected, nor as harmless as had been believed.
How Can A Respiratory Illness Like Covid
Michos explains that cells in the lung and heart are both covered with protein molecules called angiotensin-converting enzyme 2, or ACE-2. The ACE-2 protein is the doorway that the new coronavirus uses to enter cells and multiply.
ACE-2 normally plays a favorable role in protecting tissue by being anti-inflammatory. But if the new coronavirus somehow disables those molecules, these cells may be left unprotected when the immune system springs into action.
There are multiple mechanisms for heart damage in COVID-19, and not everyone is the same, Michos says. Temporary or lasting damage to heart tissue can be due to several factors:
Lack of oxygen. As the virus causes inflammation and fluid to fill up the air sacs in the lungs, less oxygen can reach the bloodstream. The heart has to work harder to pump blood through the body, which can be dangerous in people with pre-existing heart disease. The heart can fail from overwork, or insufficient oxygen can cause cell death and tissue damage in the heart and other organs.
Myocarditis: inflammation of the heart. The coronavirus may infect and damage the hearts muscle tissue directly, as is possible with other viral infections, including some strains of the flu. The heart may also become damaged and inflamed indirectly by the bodys own immune system response.
Stay on Top of Your Heart Health
If you have a new or existing heart problem, it’s vital to see a doctor. Our heart health checklist can help you determine when to seek care.
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Severe Stress And The Heart
There’s no question that stress can exert real physiologic effects on the bodyincluding the heart. This is most true in the case of severe and sudden stress. People who’ve received traumatic newslike the death of a childhave, in rare cases, suffered an immediate heart attack. “This isn’t just an anxiety attack. When you do a cardiac catheterization procedure on them, an artery that was previously open is now closed,” says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
The condition is known as “broken heart syndrome,” and it is much more common in womeneven in those with no history of heart disease, Dr. Bhatt says.
Can Stress Cause A Heart Attack
An expert explains how much can stress affect heart health
Stress can trigger insomnia, exacerbate digestive problems and cause muscle tension that leads to body aches.
But can stress cause a heart attack? Or is it just a dire, unsubstantiated warning offered by concerned family and friends along the lines of “You’ll catch pneumonia if you go outside with your hair wet”?
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The Truth Behind Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress that can often prompt us to be more cautious and keep us out of danger. While anxiety, stress, and nervousness can be a normal part of life, chronic and persistent anxiety that begins to affect normal daily functions is defined as a mental illness, known as anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder is a chronic condition characterized by disproportionate and persistent anxiety. The five major types include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder , panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder.
While there have been multiple studies that link depression to heart disease, the relationship between anxiety and cardiovascular disease seems to be a little more complex. Due to the high prevalence of anxiety in cardiovascular patients, researchers are further investigating if anxiety is a direct cause of heart disease or simply a correlation.
What Mental Health Disorders Are Related To Heart Disease
Some of the most commonly studied mental health disorders associated with heart disease or related risk factors include the following:*
Mood Disorders: People living with mood disorders, such as major depression or bipolar disorder, find that their mood affects both psychological and mental well-being nearly every day for most of the day.
Anxiety Disorders: People respond to certain objects or situations with fear, dread, or terror. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety, social anxiety, panic disorders, and phobias.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder : People can experience PTSD after undergoing a traumatic life experience, such as war, natural disaster, or any other serious incident.
Chronic Stress: People are in a state of uncomfortable emotional stressaccompanied by predictable biochemical, physiological, and behavioral changesthat is constant and persists over an extended period of time.
*There may be other behavioral health disorders, such as substance use disorders, that are connected to heart disease.
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The Effect Of Anxiety On The Heart
When someone is anxious, their body reacts in ways that can put an extra strain on their heart. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be especially damaging among individuals with existing cardiac disease.
Anxiety may have an association with the following heart disorders and cardiac risk factors:
- Rapid heart rate In serious cases, can interfere with normal heart function and increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
- Increased blood pressure If chronic, can lead to coronary disease, weakening of the heart muscle, and heart failure.
- May result in higher incidence of death after an acute heart attack.
Health Risks For People With Cancer
While many experts are still researching if stress causes cancer, it can definitely help patients with this disease. Psychological stress may encourage individuals to make unhealthy habits like smoking, overconsumption of alcohol, and more reduced coping strategies. Stress and cancer can lead to each others symptoms and dangers. Hence, a family with a member suffering from the disease should monitor their lifestyle. Medication can also become a risk factor since drugs like Aspirin are blood thinners. Always ask your doctor about the procedures for your cancer treatment. Dont forget to know the guidelines after every chemotherapy session.
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Can Stress Cause Heart Disease
As humans, we all stress and worry. We stress about our family, our job, our financial situations. Moderate stress is normal, but sometimes we get so overwhelmed it can feel like we are on the verge of a heart attack.
Is this possible? Well, technically, yes. For more than 100 years, it has been thought that stress plays a role in heart disease and multiple studies today prove this. That fact alone makes it crucial to understand the link between stress and heart disease and know how to manage stress effectively.
How can stress cause heart disease?Chronic stress leads to a 40%-60% increase in cardiovascular disease, said Cardiologist Ray Georgeson, a physician at Piedmont HealthCare.
Stress can lead to a cascade of events in our hearts and body. A stressful situation can cause heightened central nervous system activity, which causes an increase in adrenaline and, ultimately, a high heart rate and blood pressure.
Additionally, stress can cause a plaque rupture, which occurs when cholesterol builds up on the artery wall. According to Georgeson, a small fibrous cap inside the artery keeps the cholesterol and plaque from entering the bloodstream. However, this cap weakens and ruptures after time, causing all the plaque to enter the artery, leading to a blood clot. This blood clot can then lead to a heart attack. Emotional stress, natural disasters, and even intense sporting events can cause stress and trigger plaque rupture.
How can I reduce my stress?
Your Bodys Response To Stress May Be:
- A headache
- Wreak havoc on your sleep
- Make you feel cranky, forgetful or out of control
A stressful situation sets off a chain of events. Your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. These reactions prepare you to deal with the situation the fight or flight response.
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Who Is Gets Broken Heart Syndrome
Broken heart syndrome mostly affects women , especially in later middle age . One possible explanation is that the female hormone estrogen protects the heart against any harmful effects of hormones released in response to stress. As the level of estrogen declines with age, women might be more susceptible to the effects of sudden stress.
How Can I Cope With Stress
After you’ve identified the cause of stress in your life, the next step is to learn techniques that can help you cope with stress while fighting heart disease. 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:
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Associations Between Anxiety And Cardiovascular Health
The relationship between anxiety and cardiovascular health is complex. Anxiety may be a normal response to a stressful situation, such as an acute cardiac event, and if anxiety prompts an individual to engage more in treatment , it may be beneficial. However, when present in excess or for extended periods of time, anxiety is considered to be detrimental for psychiatric and overall health.
Anxiety has been associated with the incidence, and in some cases progression, of cardiovascular disease. In patients without existing cardiac disease, anxiety has been linked to the subsequent development of CAD. In a 2010 meta-analysis including 20 studies and nearly 250,000 patients, Roest and colleagues found that anxiety, controlling for other medical variables when possible, led to a 26% increased risk of incident CAD . While the overall findings were significant, it should be noted that only 10 of the 20 studies found a significant relationship between anxiety and incident CAD in multivariate analyses, suggesting that there are heterogeneous findings in the literature regarding this relationship.
Recognize Stress Sneaking In
Going through a divorce can be quite stressful, but until recently researchers didnt know how long the health effects of that stress might last.
In a recent study that followed participants over 18 years, women going through two or more divorces had a rise in heart attack risk that was similar to that of a smoker or a person with diabetes. The study found a higher heart attack risk in men whod had multiple divorces too. Though men did see a health benefit from remarriage, women did not. Even decades after a divorce, relationship stress can leave a powerful imprint on your health.
Work-related stress can also harm your heart. Research has found that people who are more worried about losing their job are nearly 20 percent more likely to have heart disease. But people who are happy in their jobs may be chronically stressed as well because of the competitiveness of their jobs or because theyre trying to balance their work and home life, Blaha says.
Surprisingly, even stress related to enjoyable events may raise your risk of a heart emergency. During a recent World Cup soccer event, heart attacks more than doubled in one German city during days when the nations team was playing.
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Diagnosis Of Anxiety Disorders
Diagnosing anxiety disorders in patients with cardiovascular disease is difficult given the substantial overlap between the symptoms of anxiety disorders and those of cardiovascular disease. Many symptoms of GAD, such as restlessness, fatigue, poor concentration, and sleep disturbance, are very common in patients with cardiac disease, especially HF. Similarly, nearly all the symptoms of a panic attack could potentially be experienced in the setting of an arrhythmia, ACS, or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea. If one relies too heavily on these overlapping symptoms, there is a significant risk of attributing cardiac symptoms to anxiety.
How Can I Lower My Stress
This depends on what you find relaxing and mentally soothing, as long as itâs not unhealthy things like drinking alcohol or smoking.
Meditation, for example, is thought to help the body and mind unwind. One study found that people with heart failure who were taught the principles of meditation said they had better quality of life. It even improved their performance on a 6-minute walk test.
Another stress reliever is exercise, which can ease muscle tension and release chemicals in your body that improve your mood.
Donât just look to familiar solutions. Tai chi, an ancient Chinese tradition that involves deep breathing coordinated with slow, focused movements, also has some science behind it.
Some people hospitalized for heart failure had a drop in stress hormones during a session with a therapy dog.
There are lots of ways you can lower your stress. Choose whatever healthy means works for you, whether itâs gardening, walking, or finding a few quiet minutes every day for meditation and deep breathing.
While the long-term benefit still isnât proven, this much is undisputed: There are no harmful side effects from less stress.
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How Can I Learn How To Relax
In order to cope with stress, especially if you have heart disease, you need to learn how to relax. Relaxing is a learned skill — it takes commitment and practice. Relaxation is more than sitting back and being quiet. Rather, it’s an active process involving techniques that calm your body and mind. True relaxation requires becoming sensitive to your basic needs for peace, self-awareness, and thoughtful reflection. The challenge is being willing to meet these needs rather than dismissing them.
There are a number of relaxation techniques, including:
Once you find a relaxation method that works for you, practice it every day for at least 30 minutes. Taking the time to practice simple relaxation techniques gives you the chance to unwind and get ready for life’s next challenge.
Can What I Eat Help Fight Stress?
Your body is able to fight stress and heart disease better when you take the time to eat well-balanced meals. Eat a variety of foods each day, including lean meats, fish, or poultry, enriched or whole grain breads and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.
About 55%-60% of your daily intake of calories should come from carbohydrates, no more than 25%-30% from of your caloric intake should come from fat and 10%-15% should come from protein.