How Chronic Stress Affects Your Heart Health
We’re all familiar with the feelings of being stressed—your muscles become tense, you notice your breath, and your heart begins to pound. While everyone experiences stress from time to time, prolonged exposure can wreak havoc on your heart health. The health experts at Kirby Medical Center break down how chronic stress can negatively impact your cardiovascular health.
Higher Blood Pressure
When your body is under stress, it undergoes a chemical change that includes releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. When this happens, your blood vessels constrict and your heart rate increases, also increasing your blood pressure.
While this is okay for occasional stress-inducing situations, prolonged exposure to these hormones can lead to consistently higher blood pressure levels. When this goes unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to the following cardiovascular health issues:
- Heart attack
- Heart failure
- Microvascular disease
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Can Cause “Broken Heart Syndrome”
While stress itself can’t directly cause a heart attack, it can lead to other health issues that increase your risk for one. However, stress can cause takotsubo cardiomyopathy, commonly referred to as “broken heart syndrome.” This condition feels just like a heart attack; however, you have no apparent arterial blockages. This condition is brought on by a sudden increase in hormone levels as a result of your body’s fight or flight response.
Developing Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms
Although the link between stress and heart disease is still unknown, many people turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to cope with elevated stress levels. Some of these unhealthy behaviors include:
- Binge eating cookies, ice cream, and other comfort foods.
- Drinking alcohol.
- Smoking cigarettes and using tobacco products.
Contact Kirby Medical Center
At Kirby Medical Center, we are dedicated to helping our community learn how to stay healthy and safe. If you are concerned about your health risks and the types of vaccines that are right for you, contact Kirby Medical Center
at 217-762-2115 to learn more about how we can assist with all your healthcare needs.