How Stress Can Affect Your Heart Health

Stressed out

What’s going on in your mind can affect your body , and that connection is often noticeable in our heart health . Researchers have repeatedly found that stress – and other factors associated with feeling stressed-out – may raise our chances of having heart problems.

Here are some of the connections between stress and poor heart health:

Work stress 
Researchers have found that men whose jobs are stressful – perhaps because they’re demanding or the workplace offers little support – may be 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease.

Home stress 
Arguments, conflicts, and other stressful problems at home have also been found to raise people’s risk of heart disease, particularly women’s.

Harmful coping strategies
Many people deal with their stress by eating too much, smoking, drinking alcohol, and avoiding exercise. These types of unhealthy coping strategies can harm your heart, in part by raising your blood pressure. 

Having friends and staying socially active can help protect us from chronic stress. (Our friends can listen when we’re stressed-out and remind us that we’re not alone with our problems). People who are isolated because they don’t have good support networks, however, have been found to have a higher risk of dying at a younger age from heart disease.

Emotional struggles
Depression and anxiety – two concerns that often go hand-in-hand with stress – can be related to heart problems. A number of studies have shown that people with depression are more likely to develop heart disease. And people who develop heart disease who are also depressed tend to have a worse outcome from the heart problem. Anxiety may also raise your chances of developing heart disease.

Personality factors
Research has found that people who tend to be angry or hostile are more likely to develop heart problems.

Dealing better with stress can improve your overall health and elevate your quality of life, though it’s not clear whether managing your stress better can help prevent a heart attack or other heart problems, according to the American Heart Association.

Still, if you already know you have heart disease and you’re feeling stressed, the organization recommends talking with your doctor about it. A specialist in a heart hospital is also a good resource to consult about the links between stress and your heart health.

Healthy ways of coping with stress include exercise, following a nutritious diet and keeping a healthy weight, getting enough sleep, and working to keep a positive outlook.

Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center has been providing top-notch cardiology care for more than four decades. We provide a full range of heart care, from diagnosing heart problems to open heart surgery to cardiac rehabilitation. To find a Los Robles Hospital physician who specializes in heart care, contact Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center toll-free at (805) 497-2727.