Stress and your Heart

Stress affects everyone in different ways and at different times. Too many of us brush it aside and avoid dealing with the root causes of our stress. It's natural and healthy to feel stressed from time to time, but not constantly. Too much emotional stress can take a toll on our physical and mental health, so it's important to learn how to deal with it effectively.

What is Stress? 

When we're stressed, different hormones are released into the blood, including cortisol, adrenaline and norepinephrine. These stress hormones are responsible for the physical affects you experience like an increased heart rate, raised blood pressure and nausea. They also affect you emotionally, making you feel tired, angry and emotionally drained. Stress isn't just a mood; it's a biological response that can affect all aspects of your health.

Anything can potentially trigger stress; financial pressures, changes in your life and health scares are all common causes. The COVID-19 pandemic is currently a major source of stress, affecting everyone around the globe. The Office for National Statistics has found that 65% of British adults think their freedom and independence have been affected by the coronavirus.

It's a great idea to evaluate how you feel from time to time and get to the bottom of what's causing you to feel this way.

Stress Hormones and the Heart

Your heart and circulatory system are well-adapted to deal with healthy amounts of stress. But too much, too often, can cause a wide range of problems.

Stress is directly linked to your heart health. Having high levels of cortisol and other stress hormones in your blood can increase your cholesterol levels, blood sugars and blood pressures. This puts you at a greater risk of developing heart disease and a serious cardiac event like a heart attack.

If reading this has sent your stress levels through the roof, don't worry! Reducing your stress back to a healthy level will decrease these risks and potentially put less strain on your heart.

Dealing with Stress

We each have our own ways of managing stress.

Many of us like to unwind at the end of the day with a glass of wine. Some of us smoke to deal with stress. Although fine in moderation, drinking to excess and smoking are not effective ways to deal with our problems. Over time, they can increase your chances of developing serious heart and circulatory problems and can make existing problems worse.

Try other, healthier ways to relax. Take up a new hobby or chat with friends and family. Run a warm bath or get lost in a book. Find what works best for you and stick with it; your heart will thank you for it in the long run.