Stress and Heart Disease

Does stress cause heart disease? What are the health impacts of stress on your heart?

Stress and heart disease

Due to scientific research stress and heart disease are now starting to be linked together. Does stress cause heart disease? According to the British Heart Foundation in the UK:

"Research evidence is beginning to recognize that, for some people at least, stress may contribute towards coronary heart disease."

They report that evidence is growing to say that stress contributes toward heart problems. But due to the nature of stress and the fact that it is not easy to measure they are not directly able to say whether stress does cause heart disease.

It would seem that it will still be some time before we know for certain whether stress causes heart disease.

Main Risk Factors For Heart Disease

So what are the main risk factors for heart disease? They are:

• High blood pressure

• High blood cholesterol

• Being overweight

• Diabetes

• Smoking

• Family history of coronary heart disease

So at the moment stress is not seen as a primary cause of heart disease but research has been done to show the following links between the two.

Facts About Stress and the Heart

Does stress affect the heart?

According to the British Heart Foundation what we know about stress and the heart so far is as follows:

• Stress can affect the heart when it releases certain hormones. The hormones increase blood pressure and can encourage clotting in the arteries.

• Stress can increase the production of cortisol and adrenaline - these are chemicals which produce the fight or flight syndrome and prepare the body for change.

• Research continues to be carried out into what the release of cortisol and adrenaline does to the body - how it can lead to fatty deposits being built up in the arteries, how it can make the blood more likely to clot and can increase blood pressure.

• Stress has a role to play in your attitude or state of mind. This means that instead of thinking what you are doing and the impact your choices are having on your body you choose to take short term solutions which have an adverse impact on your heart. For example, when you are stressed you are more likely to eat less healthily, eat less regularly, drink too much alcohol or coffee, or smoke more than you usually do.

If you are struggling with an addiction to any of these substances drug rehabilitation is a good resource for finding the appropriate help.

• Research has shown that stress can also discourage you from doing more healthy activities like meditation or physical exercise

So does stress cause heart disease? It is not clear at the moment as not enough research has been done but evidence is starting to mount that stress and heart disease are linked.

Rather than waiting to see if stress is affecting your health, the best form of cure is preventative. Doing exercise, eating healthily and getting a good night's sleep will all help towards relaxing you and therefore your heart.

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