How connected stress to heart health

Author Ольга Кияница


Everyone suffers stress in his own way and responds to it differently. With frequent exposure to stressful situations, a wide range of health problems can arise. The heart suffers especially from this. Therefore, it is important to know what can be done about it and how to react correctly so as not to harm your body.

Stress (or overstrain) is a combination of various adaptive reactions of the body that occur under the influence of physical or pathological factors and lead to changes in homeostasis. As a result, the nervous system or the body as a whole is disrupted.

The definition of “stress” comes from the English. stress, which means “load, stress; high voltage condition ”.

According to

There are various types of stress, the so-called “good” (eustress) and “bad” (distress), emotional and psychological. In most cases, stress has a negative impact on human health, especially on the cardiovascular system, so there are special techniques that allow you to relieve psycho-emotional stress.

Video: How stress affects your body - Sharon Horesh Bergquist

Historical moments

  • In ancient times, Aristotle and Virgil taught that the heart, not the brain, is a place of mind and soul, and similar beliefs can be found in ancient Hindu writings and other Eastern philosophies.
  • Approximately 2,000 years ago, the Roman physician Celsus unwittingly admitted a spiritual connection, noting that "fear and anger, as well as any other state of mind, can often accelerate the pulse."
  • Early uses of the word “heart” clearly indicate its conceptualization as a place of innermost feelings, temperament or character. At the same time, such statements as “irritating, heartache,” “take to heart”, “eat up your heart”, “golden heart”, “heart of stone”, “uncompromising heart” are known. These are just a few phrases that are still used when you need to clearly symbolize your conviction.
  • William Harvey, who discovered that blood circulation around the body through the vessels was caused by the mechanical action of the heart, also recognized that the value of this organ is more than just a pump. As he wrote in 1628, “any attachment of the mind, in which there is either pain, pleasure, hope or fear, is the cause of arousal, the influence of which extends to the heart” (Harvey, 1628).
  • In the 18th century, John Hunter, who expanded the significance of the operation from mechanical commerce to experimental science, suffered from angina, and being an observer and a participant in one person, complained: "My life is in the hands of any scoundrel who wants to irritate and irritate me." He ended up in the role of a prophet, because during a heated argument with a colleague, his sudden death from a heart attack occurred. (House, 1796).
  • Napoleon’s beloved physician, Corvisart, wrote that heart disease is caused by “the passions of the mind,” to which he counted anger, madness, fear, jealousy, horror, love, despair, joy, stinginess, stupidity, and ambition.

Type A Coronary Behavior

Psychiatrists and other specialists interested in psychosomatic disorders have previously described certain personality characteristics in patients with heart attacks. However, it turned out to be impossible to prove that they had any causal relationships, since such features could be the result of the disease, and not vice versa.

Friedman and Rosenman for the first time explained why a particular behavior can cause heart attacks and contribute to coronary artery disease. The term “type A” was not mentioned in this original document, but appeared next year in an article describing how this type of “overt behavior of model A” can be detected by a “new psychophysiological procedure” (Friedman & Rosenman, 1960). Then Rosenman was able to show the predictive value of this method, with which it was possible to identify patients with coronary disease and thus prevent future problems. (Rosenman et al., 1964).

In the future, an analysis of statistics on the prevalence of heart attack between men and women in different countries of the world (America, Mexico, Italy) was carried out. The ratio between the sexes was different, in particular, there was a “split” in the United States and northern Italy, while in Mexico and southern Italy the incidence was the same between men and women. Obviously, this discrepancy was not related to differences in diet or environmental factors (as previously thought), so further analysis was carried out based on an assessment of social, cultural and behavioral relationships.

In those countries where men suffer more heart attacks than women, the following behavioral patterns were determined in patients:

  • Inflexible behaviors, often combined with unrealistic ambition. At the same time, there is a need to maintain a high level of efficiency in order to earn respect and to have a feeling of guilt during vacation or relaxation. It was also noted relentless desire for recognition or power and competitive attitude, which often creates problems, even if they do not exist.
  • A certain style of thinking and activity characterized by enduring vigilance and impulsivity. This usually leads to the simultaneous pursuit of several directions of thought or action.
  • Hyperactive responsiveness, often manifested in the tendency to interrupt or end a sentence in a conversation, is usually dramatic, varying speech, volume and / or pitch or alternating fast bursts of words with long pauses of vibrations for an accent. This behavior indicates intense reflection.
  • Type A people often nod or oppose agreement. They can also use short bursts of laughter to indirectly point the speaker at the foreseeable moment, which allows them to gain the upper hand.
  • Poor interpersonal relationships due to the fact that “type A” people tend to be self-centered, poor listeners often use bravado in relation to their interlocutor. It is easy to get angry, frustrated, or hostile if their desires are not respected or their goals are not achieved.
  • Increased muscular activity in the form of gestures, movements and facial expressions, such as grimaces, gnashing and knocking of teeth, or chewing jaw muscles. Fists are often squeezed or they may knock with their fists to emphasize their point of view.
  • Irregular or abnormal breathing with frequent sighs, caused by inhaling more air than necessary. This often happens during a conversation, with air being released in the middle or at the end of a sentence to emphasize attention.

It was also noted that patients with coronary disease are usually very competitive and often overly aggressive. They are usually in a hurry and, therefore, eat, talk, walk and work at a faster pace. Type A depends more on quantity rather than on the quality of their work, they try to do too many things at once, they are often concerned about what they are going to do next, and tend to limit their interests outside of their work. (Rosch 1983a).

The relationship of stress and heart disease

If a person gets stuck in a traffic jam, he is late for an important meeting, most often his breathing is accelerated, his heartbeat quickens, and his muscles tighten. As anxiety increases, a sensation of an approaching heart attack may occur.

What one has to experience in such situations indicates a phenomenon that was once described by the physiologist Harvard Walter Cannon, who presented it as a “battle or flight”.

In a stressful situation, the body releases a stream of chemicals, such as cortisol and norepinephrine (adrenaline), which prepare the body for quick and immediate action. If suddenly at such a moment the car breaks out fire, the person will be ready to jump out of it and escape. But under domestic stress, which today is exposed to a large part of the world's population, the reaction is counterproductive, since there are no pronounced actions.

Chronic stress, whether due to family problems, misunderstandings with friends or a powerful boss, is most often associated with a wide range of harmful health effects. Its presence can change the mood, sleep and appetite for the worse. In the worst cases, stress causes heart disease.

“When stress is excessive, it can contribute to the development of various diseases, ranging from high blood pressure, also called hypertension, to asthma and irritable bowel syndrome,” noted Ernesto L. Schiffrin, MD, Ph.D., chief physician at Sir Mortimer B Davis-Jewish General Hospital, as well as a professor and chair of research at the faculty of medicine at McGill University in Montreal.

Constant stress is when a person is in tension for several days or weeks, and sometimes more. Although the link between stress and heart disease is not fully understood, chronic stress can lead to some people drinking too much alcohol. This often leads to an increase in blood pressure and damage to the walls of the arteries.

Serious stress and heart

There is no doubt that stress can have a real physiological effect on the body, including the heart. This most often occurs when a serious and sudden (acute) stressful situation develops. People who received shocking news, such as the death of a child, were in most cases subjected to an immediate heart attack.

“This is not just a disturbing attack. When a heart catheterization procedure is performed in such cases, the artery that was previously open is most often defined as closed, ”says Dr. Deepak Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

This condition is also known as “broken heart syndrome” and is much more common in women. In this case, those who have not previously had any cardiovascular diseases may suffer.

Daily stress

Broken Heart Syndrome is an example of cardiovascular damage that can result from severe, acute forms of stress. But daily experiences, such as the rush-hour movement, the depressing climate in the family and the worsening of relationships in the workplace, can have no less negative effect on the heart.

The relationship between various chronic forms of stress and heart disease is not so clearly defined. Nevertheless, researchers stress stress that psycho-physiological stress has a much more negative effect on the heart than is commonly thought.

One of the modern assumptions - stress triggers an inflammatory reaction that promotes the development of heart disease, but this has not been proven 100%. However, stress can affect the condition of the heart in a more subtle way.In particular, under the influence of a stressful situation, which can be combined with other risk factors for the type of smoking and alcoholism, cardiovascular disorders arise.

The most common chain of pathological changes under the action of stress:

  • A person is exposed to negativity.
  • For “calming down,” foods such as pizza, sweets or cookies are starting to be consumed.
  • These foods high in fat and cholesterol contribute to damage to the arteries.
  • Circulatory disorders cause heart attacks and strokes.

Stress can also lead to other cardio-destructive behaviors, such as smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

During stress, people experience a very different reaction, but most often a person who is experiencing stress:

  • Eats to calm down.
  • He speaks and eats very quickly.
  • Drinks alcohol or smokes.
  • He is in a hurry, but at the same time he is unable to do everything normally.
  • It works too much.
  • Hesitates
  • Sleeps too little or too much or both options at once.
  • Attempts to perform many different tasks simultaneously.

Such reactions only increase the irritability and psycho-emotional experience, therefore a long stay in such a state greatly harms the general state of health.

Ways to cope with stress and help the heart

The issue of helping patients is associated with both stress relief and the management of unhealthy habits that it causes. Stress management is a good idea for overall health promotion. Researchers are currently exploring the effectiveness of stress control in heart disease.

To help the heart in this process, you can try to put into practice five simple tips.

  1. Stay positive . According to studies, people with heart disease who maintain an optimistic attitude towards life are less prone to myocardial infarction than those who are more negative. Sometimes sincere laughter can help heal the heart.Laughter has been found to reduce stress hormone levels, reduce inflammation in the arteries, and increase “good” cholesterol (HDL).
  2. To meditate It has been shown that this practice of inward thinking and deep breathing reduces the risk factors for heart disease, especially high blood pressure. Anyone can learn to meditate. It is enough to set aside a few minutes to sit in a quiet place, with eyes closed and focus on your own breathing. Close “relatives” of meditation, yoga and prayer, can also help to relax and calm the mind and body.
  3. Physically exercise . Every time a sport is held, you manage to go for a walk or play tennis, the body adjusts to a good mood by producing the appropriate chemicals, called endorphins. As a result, not only stress is alleviated, but heart disease is also prevented, blood pressure is reduced, heart muscle is strengthened and a healthy weight is maintained.
  4. Disconnect . It is impossible to avoid stress when he pursues everywhere. In such cases, you need to “cut the cord”.You can even limit the use of a smartphone, e-mail, watching TV. Every day you can devote yourself only 10 or 15 minutes to get away from the world, and this will already have a positive effect on your well-being.

Sometimes it's important to find your own way to relieve stress. For example, you can use the bathroom with bubbles, listen to music or read a book. Under stress, any technique is effective if you like to do it.

Video: Stress & the Heart – What You Need to Know - Mayo Clinic

Source 1.  Аллен Элкин. Стресс для "чайников" = Stress Management For Dummies. - М.: “Вильямс”, 2006. - С. 320. 2.  Стресс - Википедия - свободная энциклопедия 3.  Stress and Heart Health - American Heart Association

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One response to “How connected stress to heart health”

  1. Вера says:

    У меня с этой удалёнкой постоянно возникали нервные припадки какие-то, стрессовала жутко. Потом стала принимать 5-HTP от эвалар по совету врача и пришла к выводу, что буквально с первого раза он мне помог очень здорово. Нервишки как-будто подукрепились и на фоне этого даже сердце реже покалывать стало. 5-HTP в интернет-магазине Фитомаркет заказывала, так удобнее.

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