Stress levels in a person have a direct wallop on his cardiovascular system. It is a well known fact that stress and ability to cope with it has an association with a person’s wellbeing. But does stress lead to a heart attack? This seems to be the most common question that the people ask in this regard.
Stress may be of two different types: physical stress and emotional stress. Physical stress can be very dangerous if there is an underlying heart disease. If person suffering from coronary heart disease is subjected to exercise or other forms of physical exertion, his heart would be starved of oxygen and this could lead to angina (chest pain) or a heart attack.
Emotional stress has always been a difficult subject for scientists to delineate since it is a subjective phenomenon. Each person responds to stress in different manner. An environment or situation could be very distressing to a person but another person of completely different attitude would find the same environment pleasurable. A person’s behavior plays a crucial rule in coping up with emotional stresses.
People coming under Type A behavior have always been warned of their higher risk factor. Type A personality is very hyperactive and indulges in multitasking. He is impatient and festinated. These type of people often find themselves to be stressed out at the end of the day. These people encounter frequent Hypertension (high blood pressure) and stand a greater chance of having a stroke.
Research has shown how our blood pressure and heart rate is manipulated by stress. Blood pressure varies according to the various stress levels that we keep. These differ based on the person’s ability to handle them and on the stressor. Intense stress is accompanied with a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Heart attacks and sudden deaths step-up significantly following the acute stress associated with natural calamities like earthquakes and tsunamis.
Stress-induced cardiomyopathy, also known as apical ballooning cardiomyopathy, takotsubo cardiomyopathy or broken-heart syndrome, is an increasingly reported CVD among people undergoing acute emotional stress, such as death of a loved one , domestic arguments, abuse and relationship breakup. Such a syndrome is characterized by sudden temporary weakening of the myocardium (the heart muscle). The person suffering experiences sudden onset of congestive heart failure and bulging out of the left ventricular apex with a hypercontractile base of the left ventricle occurs. Stress-induced cardiomyopathy is found more among post-menopausal women.
The treatment for stress-induced cardiomyopathy includes general therapy and management of coronary ischemia (characterized by reduced blood pressure to the heart muscle) and pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs). This management includes continuous telemetry monitoring and administration of aspirin, anticoagulants with direct thrombin inhibition. Blood pressure medications are generally prescribed, such as ACE inhibitors,beta blockers or diuretics.
Recent research is now focused on identifying and preventing the rising problem of coronary heart diseases in individuals who maintain degenerative stress levels. Our distinct but grievous traits like aggressiveness, nimiety anger, enmity and the stress that we create on our own by smoking, boozing, etc. contributes to coronary heart problems. Consumption of alcohol and smoking are now classified under coronary events.
Stress management techniques would be adjuvant in countering coronary events and is associated diseases. Stimulants like nicotine and caffeine are to be avoided as this makes a person’s heart rate increase and would contribute to stress. The first step would be to identify the stress factors and the second, to implement the steps to change ones situation.