Wednesday, September 28, 2022

What Does Stress Do To The Heart

Stress Test Results By Age

How Does Stress Affect The Heart?

So youre wondering how well should someone my age do on the stress test to impress my cardiologist? Bad question to ask, because there are no age-related standards.

The only factor that age determines in this test is when to end it. Basically, when you reach 85% of your age-predicted maximal heart rate, the test is over. How do you determine that? The generally accepted formula is 220 minus your age.

So if youre 60 years old, 220 minus your age is 160 beats per minute, which represents your max. Your test would be over when you reach 85% of 160, which is 136 beats per minute. Or when the tester sees that youre obviously struggling, or when you tell them that youve had enough.

Effects Of Chronic Stress On The Brain

While stress itself is not necessarily problematic, the buildup of cortisol in the brain can have long-term effects. Thus, chronic stress can lead to health problems.

Cortisols functions are part of the natural process of the body. In moderation, the hormone is perfectly normal and healthy. Its functions are multiple, explains the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science. In addition to restoring balance to the body after a stress event, cortisol helps regulate blood sugar levels in cells and has utilitarian value in the hippocampus, where memories are stored and processed.

But when chronic stress is experienced, the body makes more cortisol than it has a chance to release. This is when cortisol and stress can lead to trouble. High levels of cortisol can wear down the brains ability to function properly. According to several studies, chronic stress impairs brain function in multiple ways. It can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others. Stress can kill brain cells and even reduce the size of the brain. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.

Ways To Manage Stress And Help Your Heart

Want to turn your stress around and help your heart in the process? Try these five simple tips.

  • Stay positive. People with heart disease who maintain an upbeat attitude are less likely to die than those who are more negative, according to research. Just having a good laugh can help your heart. Laughter has been found to lower levels of stress hormones, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” HDL cholesterol.

  • Meditate. This practice of inward-focused thought and deep breathing has been shown to reduce heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Anyone can learn to meditate. Just take a few minutes to sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Meditation’s close relatives, yoga and prayer, can also relax the mind and body.

  • Exercise. Every time you are physically active, whether you take a walk or play tennis, your body releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins. Exercising not only melts away stress, but it also protects against heart disease by lowering your blood pressure, strengthening your heart muscle, and helping you maintain a healthy weight.

  • Unplug. It’s impossible to escape stress when it follows you everywhere. Cut the cord. Avoid emails and TV news. Take time each dayeven if it’s for just 10 or 15 minutesto escape from the world.

  • Find your own path to stress relief. Take a bubble bath, listen to music, or read a book. Any technique is effective if it works for you.

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    Different Types Of Anxiety Disorder

    Anxiety disorders fall into several categories. Here are a few of them:

    • Panic disorder can be associated with cardiac disease or mistaken for heart attack. Feelings of extreme agitation and terror are often accompanied by dizziness, chest pains, stomach discomfort, shortness of breath, and rapid heart rate.
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder a condition that can follow a shocking or frightening incident or sudden, life-threatening event such as a violent crime, major accident, or heart attack. A person suffering from PTSD often has trouble dealing with anything associated with the incident that caused their condition, and experiences feelings of jitteriness and detachment.
    • Obsessive-Compulsive disorder People with OCD will manage unreasonable thoughts and worries by performing the same actions over and over. For example, an individual obsessed with perceived cardiovascular symptoms that have been checked and cleared by a physician may compulsively research them or find new ones for hours on end.

    Sudden Stress Can Cause Broken Heart Syndrome Which Feels Like A Heart Attack

    How Stress Affects the Heart &  How You Can Reverse It ...

    One of the most dramatic ways stress can affect your heart is by causing takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or “broken heart syndrome.”

    This feels just like a heart attack, with symptoms including chest pain and shortness of breath, but it is a different condition altogether, says Lauren Gilstrap, MD, a cardiologist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

    Those symptoms come on suddenly, triggered by a stressful emotional event, such as the sudden death of a loved one. “Its presentation isn’t subtle,” Gilstrap says. “People think they’re having a heart attack.”

    However, that’s not the case. A heart attack occurs when an artery to the heart is blocked. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy has no underlying blockages. Its exact causes aren’t known, but are thought to be tied to a sudden hormonal surge from the body’s fight or flight response.

    “Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a fundamentally different phenomenon than a heart attack,” Gilstrap says. “The arteries are completely fine and the blood supply is completely normal, but all of a sudden, the heart doesn’t squeeze.”

    Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is most common in women aged 58 to 75, who make up more than 90% of cases. Doctors aren’t entirely sure why, but one study found that women experience higher rates of emotional stress. About 5% of women who think they’re having a heart attack are actually experiencing stress-induced cardiomyopathy.

    Also Check: Can Stress Cause Headaches For Days

    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:

    Stress And Your Heart

    The real connection between stress and heart disease, and what to do if you’re under too much pressure.

    You’re stuck in traffic, late to an important appointment. Your breath quickens. Your heart races. Your muscles tense. As your anxiety builds, you might even feel like you’re on the verge of having a heart attack.

    What you’re experiencing is the phenomenon Harvard physiologist Walter Cannon once termed the “fight-or-flight” response. In a stressful situation, your body releases a flood of chemicals such as cortisol and epinephrine , which prepare your body for action. If the car in front of you were to burst into flames, you’d be ready to leap from your car and flee. But the reaction is counterproductive when you’re just waiting in traffic.

    Chronic stresswhether from a traffic-choked daily commute, unhappy marriage, or overbearing bosshas been linked to a wide range of harmful health effects. It can interfere with your mood, sleep, and appetite. But can stress cause heart disease?

    Recommended Reading: How To Eliminate Stress And Anxiety

    How Stress Hormones Impact The Body

    When adrenaline and cortisol pump through the body, a sequence of events prepares you for action. Your heart rate increases, your energy soars, and your glucose levels and blood pressure spike. These changes allow you to focus and take quick action in the moment. However, for those who suffer from chronic stress, that moment can turn into days or weeks of stress responses that come and go.

    Your Bodys Response To Stress May Be:

    British Heart Foundation – Your guide to an exercise ECG (stress test), heart disease test
    • 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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    How To Train For The Stress Test

    The first step in preparing for the stress test is actually doing the test on your own. So follow the protocol I mentioned earlier in this article on your own.

    And when doing it on your own, youll want to measure and write down your heart rate every minute. You can do that either by wearing a heart rate monitor, or by holding on to the heart rate sensors on the treadmill. I prefer the heart rate monitor, because you dont have to wait the 15 or so seconds that it takes the treadmill to figure out your heart rate.

    The test is over for you as soon as you reach your theoretical maximal heart rate. Whats your theoretical maximal heart rate? Its 220 minus your age. So if youre 60, your theoretical maximal heart rate is 160 beats per minute. Once you reach that mark, the test is over.

    From your self-test, you want to note:

    • Your pre-exercise heart rate: what was your heart rate right before you stepped on the treadmill?
    • The amount of time it took to reach your maximal heart rate.
    • Any points along the test where the increase in heart rate accelerated.
    • Your heart rate 1 minute after the test is over. This is called your recovery heart rate. The larger the drop, the better. It means that you recover faster.

    Stress And Heart Disease

    As we touched upon in the previous section, stress is linked to a higher risk of heart disease. Although stress may not be a direct risk factor, frequently feeling stressed is linked to other factors that increase heart disease risk, such as high blood pressure, bad eating, lack of exercise, and smoking.

    Also Check: How To Stop Stress Breakouts

    Chronic Stress Can Cause Heart Trouble Too

    Initially, takotsubo cardiomyopathy was identified in patients who experienced sudden, extreme stress. But doctors now recognize that it can also occur in people who have more prolonged stressors such as a major project at work or relationship stress at home, Gilstrap says.

    Chronic stress is also linked to heart disease in a number of ways. Experiencing chronic stress, including that from racial biases, poverty, or relationship troubles, increases your risk of hypertension, according to a 2013 study in Current Hypertension Reports. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease.

    Stress can also contribute to unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking or overeating, all of which are tied to adverse effects on heart health, according to the American Heart Association.

    The Mind And Mental Health: How Stress Affects The Brain

    Recovery From Exercise  Whats Stress Got To Do With It ...

    Stress continues to be a major American health issue, according to the American Psychological Association. More than one-third of adults report that their stress increased over the past year. Twenty-four percent of adults report experiencing extreme stress, up from 18 percent the year before.

    Its well-known that stress can be a detriment to overall health. But can stress actually change the physiology of the brain? Science says yes.

    Recommended Reading: What Helps With Anxiety And Stress

    What Happens If You Fail A Stress Test

    As the saying goes if at first you dont succeed, skydiving may not be for you. Sorry. Bad joke. Back on topic: what happens if you fail a stress test?

    There are a few things that can happen if you fail a stress test:

  • You get more tests. Further investigation is required to figure out why you failed the test. You may get an ECG, a nuclear stress test , or other tests.
  • Your doctor gets all the information s/he needs from the test, and decides the most appropriate course of action, whether medications, surgery, or something else
  • Stress And Heart Health

    Whats stressful to one person isnt for another. Happy events and unhappy events can cause stress.

    Everyone feels and reacts to stress in different ways. How much stress you experience and how you react to it can lead to a wide variety of health problems and thats why its critical to know what you can do about it.

    Read Also: How Does Working Out Reduce Stress

    Stress Can Cause Broken Heart Syndrome Which Feels Like A Heart Attack

    One of the most dramatic ways stress can affect your heart is by causing takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as stress-induced cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome.

    This feels just like a heart attack, with symptoms including chest pain and shortness of breath, but it is a different condition altogether, says Lauren Gilstrap, MD, a cardiologist at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center.

    Those symptoms come on suddenly, triggered by a stressful emotional event, such as the sudden death of a loved one. Its presentation isnt subtle, Gilstrap says. People think theyre having a heart attack.

    However, thats not the case. A heart attack occurs when an artery to the heart is blocked. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy has no underlying blockages. Its exact causes arent known but are thought to be tied to a sudden hormonal surge from the bodys fight or flight response.

    Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a fundamentally different phenomenon than a heart attack, Gilstrap says. The arteries are completely fine and the blood supply is completely normal, but all of a sudden, the heart doesnt squeeze.

    Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is most common in women aged 58 to 75, who make up more than 90% of cases. Doctors arent entirely sure why, but one study found that women experience higher rates of emotional stress. About 5% of women who think theyre having a heart attack are actually experiencing stress-induced cardiomyopathy.

    Managing Stress To Protect The Heart

    How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

    Some people are simply more prone to stress than others, whether due to their genetic makeup or past experiences. For these individuals, it is especially important to learn healthy coping mechanisms that can effectively reduce stress. The most commonly effective stress reduction techniques include:

    • Regular exercise

    Read Also: How To Reduce Stress And Anxiety Naturally

    How Does Stress Affect Your Cardiovascular Health

    Weve all experienced stresswhether its the bills piling up, a relationship going wrong, or something as mundane as winding up in a traffic jam. It seems theres always something fraying our nerves and causing us to tear our hair out. But stress is more than just an annoyance it can have actual, serious effects on your health, particularly your cardiovascular health.

    So how exactly how does stress affect your heart and what can you do to prevent it? Scientists have yet to determine how stress contributes to heart disease but we do know that it can cause a series of reactions that can affect your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, thereby increasing the risk of developing heart disease.

    Anxiety And Heart Disease

    The association between anxiety and heart disease has not been as fully studied as the relationship between depression and heart disease.

    However, Una D McCann, M.D., director of the Anxiety Disorders Program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, believes the connection is strong.

    Read Also: How To Relieve Stomach Stress

    What Stress Does To Your Body

    When faced with a stressful situation such as rush-hour traffic or babysitting an ornery grandchild our bodies release hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline, which help us react to the situation.

    These hormones increase heart rate and blood pressure, supplying the body with a burst of energy and strength. This creates a “fight or flight” reaction that, when you’re in actual danger, helps you defend yourself or flee.

    When the “danger” or stressful scenario passes, the body’s relaxation response kicks in and hormone levels return to normal.

    How To Reduce Stress

    How Does Stress Affect The Heart? Explains This ...

    Lets conclude the article with some tips on how to reduce stress:

    • Stay active each time we exercise the body releases endorphins which boost our mood. Not only does exercising regularly combat stress, but it can also lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart. It doesnt have to be an intense gym workout just taking a walk, playing a sport or going for a swim is a great stress reliever
    • Learn to switch off if you have a stressful life, it might be time to shut down for a little while. That means taking yourself away from the social media feeds, TV programmes and emails that can threaten to take over our day
    • Laugh dont underestimate just how much having a laugh can be beneficial for the heart. Research has proven that laughing lowers stress hormone levels and reduces inflammation of the arteries
    • Get enough sleep getting a restful nights sleep of seven to nine hours can give you a stronger mindset to deal with stress when it presents itself. Research suggests its a catch 22 situation high stress levels can lead to sleeping problems, while not getting enough sleep can also increase stress
    • Speak to a professional It can help to talk things through, especially with professional guidance from qualified practitioners. And whilst talking to a counsellor or therapist may not completely eradicate the problem, its been proven to dramatically reduce levels of stress.

    Recommended Reading: Does Stress Cause Ringing In The Ears

    Diagnosing And Treating Anxiety

    Its important to differentiate normal anxiety from the more severe type. Does the anxiety interfere with your family life or keep you from being productive in your professional life? Does it restrict you from engaging in the activities you like? If the answer is yes, then its the kind of anxiety that may require some degree of therapy or medical attention.

    Depending on the duration, severity, and type of anxiety, treatment can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. A common and effective method of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves three main components:

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