Does Stress Cause heart Disease ?

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Elite Member

Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 10/30/2009 8:46 PM (GMT -6)   
I would love to hear others opinions on this question.
One could argue that stress is bad and feel intuitively that it must be harmful to health. Then again, human beings have always been subject to stress. We evolved under stress that must have far exceeded the levels most of us face as urban workers.
However, the type of mental stress we face as office warriors is of a different flavor than the physical stress our ancestors faced when they fought for survival. This suggests that our bodies may not be best suited for the type of stress we deal with now, and the maladaptive result may show up as disease.

What damage does stress do?

Scientific evidence indicates that mental stress can adversely affect the cardiovascular system. Tasks like complex mental arithmetic and public speaking can produce anxiety in almost anyone. They can lead to surges in heart rate and blood pressure.

Stressful tasks can cause an actual decrease in blood flow to the heart, mimicking what happens during a heart attack, though to a lesser extent. Studies by cardiologists have documented reductions in blood flow in response to stressful situations. The decrease in coronary blood flow that occurs with mental stress can be as great as with physical exertion.

In patients who already have coronary artery disease, these effects can be problematic, but fortunately can be blunted by cardiac medications. Beta-blockers, for example, can keep the heart rate from rising excessively.

But might the cumulative effects of stressors lead to heart damage in people who don’t have heart disease? Here the answer is not as clear. Probably in someone who is young and healthy, the effects will be minimal. However, in people with a predisposition to heart disease, the additional burden that stress places on the heart could, in extreme circumstances, precipitate heart attacks.

How can we stop stress damaging our heart?

Avoiding stress and stressful situations is one answer. Obviously, this is impractical for most of us. However, calming activities like prayer or meditation may help. And exercise can play a large role in relieving stress, as well as in maintaining cardiac and general health. Enjoying the company of a partner, colleagues, friends and even pets seems to bring about beneficial effects on cardiovascular, as well as overall, health. Reference: Ben Martin, Psy.D.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jan 2005
Total Posts : 1326
   Posted 11/8/2009 11:24 AM (GMT -6)   
When I did my cardiac rehab one of the classes I took was on how much stress affects the heart and the demonstrated it by showing how your hand temperature goes up when you are under stress. It was very interesting and informative. I try to catch my self right a way when I start to get stressed because I know how much it can affect the heart. Barb
My laundry list of diseases include, Ulcetive Colitis, GERD, chronic gastritis, Asthma, Alergies, CAD stent to LAD 1/4/05, TMJ and a deteriorating disk in lower back. Also chronic pain from a moped accident 11/9/07 which left me with back, hand, knee and foot problems and broken tailbone Jan/09.
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Proud grandma of Isabella Rose, Keegen Bryce, Caleb Owen and furry grandchildren Kayu, Sophie, Abby & Lucy

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 527
   Posted 12/24/2009 8:48 PM (GMT -6)   

.....Stress can cause.....ANYTHING!idea

Believe me--I've seen it all-!   Merry Christmas..Happy Holidays..& a Happy, healthy...New Year!  Robertwink

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