February 5

STRESS and the Cardiovascular System

A new study, which was published in Circulation on Feb 9th, found that in young and middle aged patients higher stress levels at baseline were associated with a worse health outcome in both men and women. Women were found to do worse one month after an Anterior Myocardial Infarction than men. The study concluded that this was due to women having higher stress levels than men. These stress differences were attributed to other physical and mental health issues, the presence of intra-family conflict, multiple care-giving demands, and financial hardship.

Previous studies in Circulation show that stress levels were more of a risk factor for women than in men who had early heart attacks.

Stress can affect our stress hormone cortisol which can cause the immune system to increase inflammation and it can trigger our autonomic nervous system to elevate adrenaline, which causes adverse changes to our blood vessels and blood pressure.

Stress reduction techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, acupuncture can be restorative, but can also help with cardiac risk reduction.


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  1. Studies show that acute stress triggers reduced blood flow to the heart, promotes your heart to beat irregularly and increases the likelihood of your blood clotting. All of these can trigger the development of cardiovascular disease.

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