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Can Stress Affect Your Heart?

Thinking about heart disease can be enough to make our palms sweat and minds race. It is, after all, the number one cause of death in the United States.

But did you know that stress can increase your risk of heart disease?

What We Know About Stress

The exact correlation between stress and our hearts isn’t entirely clear, but countless studies show that the two are related. The Women’s Health Study sampling revealed that women with highly stressful jobs were as much as 40% more likely to develop heart disease than women who faced fewer professional demands.

Another found that heart attacks were more common among adults who had experienced stressful events, including divorce, job loss, retirement, or injury in the past year.

All of this points to the importance of stress management in preventing and managing heart disease. Whether you’re one of the millions of Americans who already have heart disease or are considered at risk, keeping stress in check is essential to reducing your chances of a heart attack or stroke.

Stress, a Word With Many Faces

Acute stress is tied to specific events, from running late to public speaking. Occasional acute stress can be a good thing, motivating you to work harder and face fears.

Chronic stress is the kind of ongoing strain that wears people down. Money woes, unhealthy marriages, demanding jobs, and toxic relationships are some common causes.

One of the trickiest things about pinpointing stress is there’s no single, defining characteristic or cause.

The work deadline that keeps you awake at night might not bother your coworker. You might sweat, shake, or turn to cigarettes under pressure, whereas someone else feeling just as anxious appears cool as a cucumber.

Whether a person shows stress or not, though, one thing is exact: Situations that register as stressful affect your hormones as well as your cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous system. Your heart beats faster, you’re more likely to sweat, and “fight or flight” impulses set in as your body, thinking it’s under attack, prepares to engage danger or escape.

The Connection to Heart Health

Stress often causes people to overeat, drink alcohol, lose sleep, exercise less, or smoke - all proven threats to cardiovascular wellbeing. This is why some researchers consider stress an indirect cause of heart disease.

Related: How Stress Affects The Heart

Some people believe that heightened activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that releases white blood cells during stress, is directly responsible when these cells build up on the walls of arteries, causing a blockage.

Others think that the link between stress and heart disease results from prolonged exposure to elevated stress hormones like cortisol.

Post-Diagnosis Management

Whatever the exact correlation, one thing is crystal clear: sound, stress-free mind can help you prevent heart hurdles at any stage – including situations where you may have already been diagnosed. In fact, a recent study found that cardiac rehabilitation patients who received stress management training were 50% less likely to suffer another heart attack or stroke.

Managing Stress With Life Imaging

Avoiding stressful situations is an obvious way to reduce stress. As we all know, though, it’s not always that easy.

At Life Imaging, we live and breathe by our values in a way that allows us to focus on impacting your life by providing the tools and the stress-free environment to take control of cancer and heart disease before it takes control of you.

Related: What is Life Imaging? Everything you Need to Know

We take the stress and guesswork out of preventative care.

Patients come in to learn about our process and get scanned, and we provide them with an easy-to-read detailed report. Depending on the report, we will transfer the information to their doctor to help them set up the next steps if needed.

Heart disease is reversible in most cases. We make the process as smooth and affordable as possible. More importantly, we take the stress off your plate.

Questions? Please reach out to us. We’re here to give you the support you need. 

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Why You Should Invest in Life Imaging

Life Imaging is on a mission to provide education and affordable early detection of the two deadliest diseases known to humankind; heart disease and cancer. Early detection allows us to get to the problem early and saves lives!