Does Stress Increase Heart Disease Risks?


Stress (also called anxiety, pressure, strain, tension and other things) is part of life, we all know that, but there are legitimate questions about how stress affects cardiac health. We’d like to give you a straight answer that fits everyone, but there isn’t one. Some people thrive on it — they almost can’t live without it — and some people crash fast and hard. If you have any questions, OMNY’s cardiologists offer numerous cardio-therapy tests to identify problems while they’re small, so they can more effectively treat whatever issues concern you.


The Research Tells Us

Stress cardiomyopathy is real. It was first identified by Japanese doctors who call it “takotsubo cardiomyopathy”; some doctors are calling it “broken-heart syndrome”. Research is ongoing but it appears that sudden, severe emotional stress can cause the heart to change shape, which dangerously affects its functionality.

Stress may not always directly affect heart health — however, for some, it will increase risks from physical factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Reducing stress in these patients isn’t a complete cure for them, they also need to deal with their other medical problems.

Stress is part of our natural “fight or flight” defense mechanism. Breathing increases, the heart races, blood pressure rises, etc. This is good when it’s warranted. Some coping mechanisms make us feel better when stressed — smoking, alcohol/drugs, over-eating, entertainment — but, in the long run, they increase risks for heart disease.


Prevention is Easier and Cheaper — and Good Habits Improve Recovery

  1.   A “heart-healthy” diet can be fun to eat and affordable.
  2.   Eliminate habits (smoking, recreational drugs, etc.) that promote heart problems and developing habits (exercise, sports, meditation, etc.) that strengthen the heart muscles.
  3.   If you’re a person of faith, be devout in that faith — an eternal perspective makes every problem easier to deal with.
  4.   The best tool is your mental outlook — accept that life isn’t fair and we all have to deal with !@#*; learn to say ‘no’ and say it forcefully when necessary; develop relationships with people that support you in everything and, while you’re at it, help others (loved ones and strangers) deal with their !@#*. The “heart” is an analogy for your emotions, and that “heart-health” is as important as cardiac health.


You Deserve the Best Possible Treatment

Founded over ten years ago, OMNY Vein & Cardiovascular is a private cardiology-vascular practice which has served over 12,000 patients in Manhattan. Our cardiologists are affiliated with numerous local hospitals and many insurance plans. OMNY should be your cardiac treatment practice of choice for prevention, testing, and treatment of heart disease and vascular issues.