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How Stress Affects the Heart

Stress can have a negative impact on your overall health and the heart in particular. Even minor stress can increase the risk of experiencing heart-related problems, including high blood pressure. Dr. Daljit Muttiana, the experienced doctor at Cardiovascular Institute in Tomball, TX, can assess your heart health and help you manage stress to reduce your risk of developing stress-related heart problems.

Stress and Heart Health

Stress can take a toll on our physical health in many ways. For example, some individuals might experience physical aches and pains in response to stress, while others struggle with decreased energy and have difficulty sleeping.

Stress can potentially also affect heart health. The body produces the hormone cortisol in response to stress. One of the purposes of cortisol is to instinctually prepare the body to fight or take flight in stressful situations. Cortisol also serves other functions, including regulating blood pressure; increasing blood sugar; managing the body’s use of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats; reducing inflammation; boosting energy in response to stress, and controlling sleeping and waking cycles.

Cortisol serves many beneficial purposes under normal conditions. However, when cortisol levels remain high for a prolonged period due to chronic stress, both blood pressure and blood sugar, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels, can all increase. When any of these things increase, so does the risk of developing heart disease. Reducing stress can help protect heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other heart-related concerns.

Ways to Reduce Stress

If stress is having an adverse impact on your health, there are steps you can take to better manage or reduce stress. Our cardiology team can recommend specific methods and techniques to help you minimize stress and promote better heart health.

One extremely effective way to combat stress is exercise. Engaging in some form of moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes at a time several days per week can improve your cardiovascular health. Regular exercise can contribute to lower blood pressure, as well as healthier cholesterol levels. It can also help you better manage stress.

Another way to reduce stress is by implementing relaxation techniques. For example, finding a calm and quiet place where you can meditate or read can help you relax and unwind so stressful situations do not become so overwhelming. Talking about the stressors in your life with a trusted family member, friend, or even a counselor or therapist can also help with stress management.

Testing for Heart Disease

Individuals who are persistently under a lot of stress or have other risk factors for heart disease should consider undergoing testing. At our office in Tomball, TX, electrocardiograms (EKGs) and stress tests are two of the ways we can determine if you might already have heart disease or are at an increased risk for it. Individuals at risk can take precautions to reduce that risk and help them avoid developing certain cardiovascular problems down the road.

Stress can affect your heart health and put you at an increased risk for various cardiovascular problems. For help with managing stress, schedule an appointment with Dr. Muttiana by calling Cardiovascular Institute in Tomball, TX, at (281) 357-5700.

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