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Stress-related cardiovascular diseases

    Stress is thought to be an important factor in many health problems.

The full impact of mental stress on heart disease is just coming to light, although the underlying mechanisms are not always clear. 

Studies suggest that treatments which reduce psychological distress improve the long-term outlook in people with heart disease. Evidence indicates that stress management programs may significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks in people with heart disease.

By releasing stress and anxiety, your body creates a loop of positive feedback through the autonomic nervous system. This feedback can lead to significant improvement in symptoms of your stress and anxiety related cardiovascular issue.

When it comes to a fractured bone, the standard medical approach is to align and immobilize the bone and then let it heal. Because this approach to a broken bone, always works. When dealing with chronic anxiety or stress, neuro-linguistic-programming, EFT, art-therapy, mindfulness, yoga, craniosacral therapy, gravity blanket, mini-horses therapy and many other approaches, based on very contradictory scientific models are available to tackle the problem.

Yet, the empirical approach in somatic hypnotherapy is the only one to support its promise to uproot and winnow away stress, anxiety and emotional trauma with not only the guarantee of "no cure - no pay" but with the promise of experiencing your good results on the spot. Because just like the antivenom that reacts almost instantly if it is the right one, you will experience the good results of your somatic hypnosis immediately after your session.

The following cardiovascular conditions may be aggravated, triggered or caused by anxiety and stress, or may be conditions for which you may be at increased risk if you are exposed to prolonged or intense anxiety and stress.

Abnormal Heart Rhythms (Heart Rhythm Disorders) "The key thing to realize is that anxiety can actively cause arrhythmia. But despite that it's not clear why. It's known that a person's heartbeat may speed up during times of stress as a result of the fight or flight system, but an arrhythmia tends to be much more sudden and doesn't always come during times of intense anxiety. Most likely an arrhythmia occurs as a response to sudden and unexpected adrenaline that your body creates when it's stressed. It may also be due to tense muscles or nerve firings that may react to the way you feel mentally. Studies have shown that somehow those with anxiety are more prone to extra muscle contractions of the heart, leading to arrhythmia."

Increased heart rate is often associated with stress and anxiety. "The chemicals released into your bloodstream when you experience stress increase your heart rate, as well as the speed of your breathing (to prepare you for ‘fight or flight’). Some people notice this change in heart rate more than others and interpret it as dangerous (e.g. “I am having a heart attack”) This is distressing and leads to the heart rate increasing further with increased distressing thoughts and a sense of panic. Such episodes, usually around 10 to 15 minutes in length are known as panic attacks. You might feel shortness of breath, breath quickly and have a sense that you can’t breathe properly. This is called hyperventilation is very common in anxiety.”

Uncovering the link between emotional stress and heart disease. "The brain's fear center may trigger inflammation and lead to a heart attack. But stress reduction techniques can break the chain. A small, almond-shaped area deep inside the brain called the amygdala is involved in processing intense emotions, such as anxiety, fear, and stress. Now, a new brain-imaging study reveals how heightened activity in the amygdala may trigger a series of events throughout the body that raises heart attack risk. "This study identifies a mechanism that links stress, artery inflammation, and subsequent risk of a heart attack," says study leader Dr. Ahmed Tawakol, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School."

Acute stress induced cardiomyopathy, sometimes called 'broken heart syndrome', is a condition triggered by stress and often follows an episode of major stress such as bereavements, involvement in an accident, or divorce – giving rise to its alternative name. Sufferers experience heart attack-like symptoms but investigations reveal that whilst the heart muscle is weakened, there is no blockage in the coronary arteries.

High Blood Pressure "Chronic emotional and mental stress is a big contributor to high blood pressure. That's because stress causes a sustained increase in the activity in the sympathetic nervous system—the part of your nervous system associated with the fight-or-flight response. When your sympathetic nervous system is activated, it floods your blood with cortisol and adrenaline, accelerating your heart rate, constricting your blood vessels and increasing blood pressure."

Heart Attack "Psychological stress is also recognized as a possible cause of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), a collection of symptoms that indicate a heart attack or approaching heart attack. High levels of psychological stress are associated with harmful changes to the blood. Research suggests that stress has the potential to trigger ACS, particularly in patients with heart disease. Studies also suggest that the risk is greatest immediately after the stressful incident, rather than during it ."

Heart attack and stroke: "The hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released in to the blood stream by the adrenaline gland when a person experiences a stress response. Adrenaline increases the heartbeat and blood pressure and in the long term can cause hypertension, while long term release of cortisol in the blood can lead to cholesterol plaque build-up in the arteries. Both of these issues can lead to an increased chance of a heart attack or stroke."

Here’s How Stress Might Cause Heart Attacks, Strokes "Our results provide a unique insight into how stress may lead to cardiovascular disease," Dr. Ahmed Tawakol of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who led the study team, said in a statement.  "Eventually, chronic stress could be treated as an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease."

High stress activity in the brain may indicate a future risk of heart attack and stroke, according to new research. Ahmed Tawakol of Massachusetts General Hospital coauthored the recent study, which found that those with a higher level of activity in the stress center of the brain showed evidence of arterial inflammation—a leading cause of many cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. According to Tawakol, high levels of stress in the brain have been found to be as pertinent as smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure in causing heart disease. In order to promote cardiovascular health, it is necessary to find ways to reduce stress in your life.

Stress in younger women linked to higher rate of heart issues: Now, a new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association finds that young women with mental or emotional stress have a higher rate of reduced blood flow to the heart—this can result in heart attack and other cardiac complications. Researchers found that stress reduced blood flow happened much more commonly in younger women as compared to older women and men. In fact, the frequency of reduced blood flow almost doubled in women compared to men for every 10-year decrease in age. Ultimately, these findings suggest that women with heart disease in their 30s, 40s and early 50s are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of psychological stress on their heart.

Stress and heart health: “New data sheds light on the mechanism behind stress and heart health. It’s clear that there’s a link between stress and heart health; what’s not clear yet is why the two are connected. Now, a new study suggests that people with higher levels of stress also have more inflammation in their arteries, putting them at higher risk for heart problems. In the new study, presented at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session, researchers used imaging to look at 293 people’s brains and arteries. They found that stress activity in an area of the brain called the amygdala, which is where emotions are processed, was linked to more inflammation in a person’s arteries. This is notable because arterial inflammation is an important driver of atherosclerotic disease, the major cause of heart attacks and stroke.”

Stress identified as cause of heart disease: "It’s become clear that stress is not only a result of adversity but may itself also be an important cause of disease. The risks of heart disease linked to stress are on par with that for smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, yet relatively little is done to address this risk compared to other risk factors"

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Disclaimer: The above content is intended for general informational purposes and does not constitute any psychological or other medical professional advice. I don't diagnose conditions, nor do I interfere with any treatments given by your medical professional.

*The results may vary from person to person.

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