How Does Stress Affect Your Heart?

All of us experience stress—such as before a test, when we are late or working under a deadline or stuck in traffic. Stress is a way for your body to adapt to changes in the environment. However, according to primary care physicians some stress is considered usual. But there’s research that shows prolonged stress or chronic stress can have a negative impact on your heart.

How does stress affect the heart? The cardiology specialists in Secaucus say that when we are under stress, our body responds by releasing a cascade of stress hormones and other chemicals that help the body implement the ‘fight or flight’ response. Some of the most notable changes are an increased heart rate and breathing rate. Both of these responses increase the blood flow to your tissues and make you much more alert.

During prolonged or chronic stress, your heart rate and breathing rate are constantly elevated. This can lead to high blood pressure, a known risk factor for heart disease. Some research shows that stress releases chemicals which increase inflammation and chronic inflammation impacts the heart’s ability to function. However, the exact connection between inflammation and heart disease remains unclear.

The most straightforward way in which stress negatively impacts the heart is via changes in behavior. When we are under a lot of pressure, we may look to comfort ourselves with fast foods, snacks and desserts. Foods which are used for relief tend to be high in fat, cholesterol and calories, and regular consumption can lead to heart disease. In addition to this, the best cardiologist in New York City says that people under pressure do not have time to exercise or may feel too tired to exercise. The combined effects of poor diet and little exercise can lead to weight gain and obesity, which is another well-known risk factor for heart disease.

Managing stress is a key to avoiding the potential negative impacts on the heart. Here are some tips by Garden State Medical Group to reduce this tensity and improve the cardiovascular health:

  • Don’t give in to temptation. No matter how much stress you are under, make sure to maintain a healthy diet. If you find yourself reaching for cookies, potato chips or snack foods, try some healthier alternatives, such as carrots or celery sticks.
  • Stay active. Exercise such as walking, riding a bicycle or working out to help relieve stress, makes you feel better and is good for your heart.
  • Live your life to the fullest. Even just a few minutes of laughter and positivity can make a huge difference.
  • Meditation and Yoga. The best cardiologists say that mindfulness techniques help relieve stress and reduce risk factors for heart disease.
  • Indulge in activities which you love. Activities such as reading, writing, listening to music, which make you feel good, will also help your heart.

Have more questions? Dr. Kamalesh Shah, a renowned physician in North Bergen, New Jersey is sure to answer them all.

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