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Can Anxiety Cause Heart Problems

A Patient’s Anxiety Or Heart Disease

Can stress cause heart problems?

One patient I saw, who was over age 70, had a lifelong history of anxiety and panic attacks. She’d stopped leaving her home out of fear of another attack after she’d tried multiple anxiety medications without benefit. But when I saw her, we found that each episode of her anxiety was caused by a rapid heart rhythm. It was easily corrected by a simple procedure called an ablation.

Shortly after the ablation, she attended a close relative’s wedding free of anxiety. This was the first time she’d participated in a large family activity in nearly 40 years.

Could My Chest Pain Be Because Of The Coronavirus

Chest pain is a rare symptom of COVID-19 and usually does not occur as the sole symptom. For instance, if your chest pain was due to COVID-19, you would most likely have accompanying signs of upper respiratory infection such as coughing and phlegm. And, the pain would not be due to a panic attack, says Dr. McCann. But again, because of the wide range of symptoms that people experience with COVID-19, theres no way to know without getting checked by a healthcare provider.

The CDC lists common COVID-19 symptoms as: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell.3

Anxiety Disorders In Patients With Cardiovascular Disease

While much of the literature to date has focused on the associations between anxiety as a symptom and cardiovascular health, it may be more important to examine the links between anxiety disorders and heart health. By definition, anxiety in the setting of anxiety disorders is chronic and persistent, and therefore it may have greater physiologic consequences than transient anxiety. Furthermore, effective treatments are available for anxiety disorders.

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What Sorts Of Mental Health Conditions Affect Heart Disease

Anxiety and depression are thought to relate to heart disease, both as a cause and an effect. So, what are they?

Anxiety is a word we use to describe how we feel when we are worried or stressed. But it is more than that. Worry or stress will come and go anxiety is a feeling that stays after the stressors have been removed. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for someone experiencing anxiety, these feelings can be difficult to control. Sometimes anxiety may have a single cause, but often there is no specific cause.

Depression is a constant feeling of sadness and loss, which stops you doing your normal activities. We can all feel sad or moody occasionally, but some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time, and sometimes without any apparent cause.

Depression affects how you feel about yourself and makes life more difficult to manage. You might lose interest in your work, hobbies, or doing things you would usually enjoy. You could lack energy, have trouble sleeping, sleep more than usual, feel irritable, or find it hard to concentrate.

What Effect Does Anxiety Have On The Heart

Can Stress Cause Heart Problems?

The bodys natural response to stress is the fight or flight response. It is an evolutionary reaction that helped our ancestors stay alive during dangerous situations. Now, we rarely face any situations of real danger, but everyday triggers can lead to a person feeling this response.

In terms of your cardiac health, stress can cause:

  • Rapid heart rate

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Increases Blood Pressure In The Heart

Spikes in blood pressure may be a side effect of the stress that you are feeling every day. If you are watching your blood pressure, you may be experiencing small bouts of chest pain or difficulty breathing. These symptoms, paired with leaky valves, can also increase improper flow in the mitral valve. Complications such as heart attack due to shortness of breath may occur in this situation. It is crucial to maintain your normal blood pressure by avoiding stressful situations, fatty food, and keeping a healthy mind.

Is It Anxiety Or A Heart Problem

Studies suggest that approximately 11 percent of the population suffers from a general anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime. Anxiety may be felt like a general but low sense of unease, or it may come and go in moments of stress. For some, anxiety involves panic attacks, events that can closely mimic the symptoms of a heart attack.

Because anxiety can coincide with rapid heart rate, abnormal heartbeats, lightheadedness, and chest pain, many people wonder if they are having anxiety, a heart attack, or if symptoms indicate an underlying heart problem. The question is, what comes first: anxiety or rapid heart rate? Here, we discuss some of the clues that may indicate that the heart is the root cause of symptoms.

  • Both anxiety and the beating heart itself can lead to abnormal heart rhythms. The difference is that, when extra heartbeats in the upper and lower chambers are the cause of abnormal rhythm, symptoms may feel like an initial skip or hard thumping beat followed by a racing heart. When anxiety is the trigger, heart rate typically increases steadily rather than suddenly.
  • Secondary symptoms. Abnormal heart rhythm such as atrial fibrillation, if not treated, can eventually weaken the heart. This can lead to secondary symptoms such as swelling in the feet, legs, and stomach. Swelling can make it difficult to breathe when lying down flat. Anxiety-related rapid heart rate does not cause swelling and the symptoms that go along with it.
  • Read Also: How To End Anxiety Forever

    Stress Can Cause A Cardiac Event That Resembles A Heart Attack

    More than 90% of stress-induced cardiomyopathy cases occur in older women.

    • Sudden stress can cause a cardiac event that feels like a heart attack, called takotsubo cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome.
    • This stress-induced cardiomyopathy isnt associated with the artery blockages that lead to a heart attack, though it may cause your heart to pump inefficiently for up to a month.
    • Chronic stress can also cause high blood pressure and lead to smoking or an unhealthy diet, which are major risk factors for a heart attack.
    • Visit Insiders homepage for more stories.

    While stress cant directly cause a heart attack, it can have a major impact on your heart health, and even trigger an event that feels just like a heart attack.

    Heres what you need to know about stress-induced cardiomyopathy, as well as the effects of chronic stress on your heart and how to manage it.

    Can Stress Lead To A Heart Attack

    Can Stress Cause Heart Disease

    Many people underestimate the impact that stress can have on the body, especially the heart.

    Take a moment to view the American Heart Association video about what may seem like a typical morning family routine:

    This portrayal may seem a little over the top, but many of us take pride in being able to accomplish a multitude of tasks and trying to be everything to everyone, impacting us emotionally and physically.

    Although several traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity, affect women and men, other factors can play a bigger role in the development of heart disease in women.

    Specific heart disease risk factors specific to women include:

    Research is ongoing in other heart disease risk factors in women.

    Is heart disease something only older women should worry about?

    Women of all ages should take heart disease seriously. Women under 65, and especially those with a family history of heart disease, need to pay close attention to heart disease risk factors.

    What are the differences of heart disease symptoms in women?

    Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain.

    Mental stress may often trigger these symptoms, which could include:
    • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
    • Shortness of breath
    • Pain in one or both arms
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Unusual fatigue

    Don’t wait until it’s too late

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    Making Your Heart Healthy By Managing Stress

    People can manage their healthy heart valves by decreasing the chances of high-stress situations. As mentioned earlier, not all stress is bad and, in fact, helps the body to become motivated and energized. You may have to check out these simple tips to keep your heart healthy.

    • Get regular exercise without stressing the techniques

    People think that undergoing exercise needs to exert lots of effort. This mindset leads to chronic stress as the overuse of muscles leads to recurring injuries. A regular exercise per day for at least 30 minutes is already enough for a healthy heart valve and arteries.

    • Choose an activity for relaxation

    Instead of burying yourself in the downwards spiral of stress, you may want to unwind and choose to relax. Massages, spa clinics, and physical therapy may also address the treatment for your anxiety. Although a person with a heart problem should know if they are qualified for some relaxation techniques like chiropractic or acupressure.

    • Observe Your Stress Signals

    It will be a massive help for your family and doctors to understand the sources of stress. You may be neglecting the signals of stress in your life, such as feeling hopeless or pressured about your work or school. It can be vital to also have scheduled appointments from a heart doctor to see the conditions of your heart valve and overall circulatory system.

    What Are The Symptoms Of A Panic Attack

    A panic attack is a sudden attack of overwhelming fear or anxiety. Panic attacks are not life-threatening, but they interfere with your quality of life and mental well-being.

    People who have regular or frequent panic attacks may have a panic disorder, a type of anxiety disorder. But an isolated panic attack can happen to anyone, even without a panic disorder diagnosis.

    • Feeling of squeezing or, says Dr. Miller, like an elephant sitting on your chest.
    • Achy or burning sensation, like heartburn.

    Panic attacks often cause:

    • Sharp or stabbing pain .
    • Heart racing or chest discomfort thats hard to describe.

    The triggers

    Heart attacks tend to happen after physical strain or exertion a sign not found in panic attacks. A heart attack might happen after shoveling snow or walking up a long flight of stairs, Dr. Miller says. But you wouldnt have a panic attack after exercise unless there was an emotional stress trigger with it.

    But what if the symptoms hit you at night? Both panic attacks and heart attacks can wake you from sleep. But theres a key difference: People who have nighttime, or nocturnal, panic attacks usually have daytime panic attacks, too.

    So if you wake up with chest pain or other symptoms, and you dont have a history of panic attacks, that might be a sign of a heart attack.

    How long it lasts

    Panic attack symptoms last a few minutes or up to an hour. Then, the symptoms disappear, and you feel better. But a heart attack wont let up.

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    Diagnosing And Treating Anxiety

    Its important to differentiate normal anxiety from the more severe type. Does the anxiety interfere with your family life or keep you from being productive in your professional life? Does it restrict you from engaging in the activities you like? If the answer is yes, then its the kind of anxiety that may require some degree of therapy or medical attention.

    Depending on the duration, severity, and type of anxiety, treatment can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. A common and effective method of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves three main components:

    Mechanisms Mediating The Relationships Between Anxiety Disorders And Cardiac Health

    Can Prolonged stress cause heart disease?

    There are several mechanisms that may explain the underlying association between anxiety disorders and cardiac disease. Though no definitive model exists, these hypotheses include both behavioral and physiologic factors .

    Potential mechanisms mediating the relationships between anxiety disorders and cardiac health

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    How Can A Heart Attack Affect Your Mental Health

    A heart attack can affect people in many ways. Having a heart attack can affect your attitude and mood. You might feel lucky to be alive and that you have had a wake-up call. You may feel uncertain about the future and anxious about your long-term health. You may be less confident, or embarrassed or frustrated because you can’t do as much. And it’s not uncommon to feel guilty about things you’ve done in the past that might have led to the heart attack.

    Anxiety Or Heart Problem: Signs And Symptoms

    Anxiety and heart attacks share many of the same symptoms, but in reality, they are very different conditions. Anxiety or panic attacks are the bodys natural response to a fight-or-flight situation, although the cause of one of these attacks usually isnt dangerous!

    Heart attacks occur when blood is unable to flow through the hearts arteries, depriving the body of oxygen. Since one of these conditions is non-threatening while the other is very dangerous, its important to know the difference between anxiety or a heart problem. Heart problems and anxiety can happen whether or not you have a history with them. Both of them may seem very similar because many of their symptoms are identical!

    Both conditions include:

    • Difficulty Breathing or Shortness of Breath
    • Intense Feeling of Doom
    • Rapid Heartbeat
    • Weak or Tingling Feeling in Limbs

    Its no wonder why telling the difference between the two is difficult! The most accurate way to determine if you have anxiety or heart problems is to visit your doctor. They can determine your hearts health as well as your stress and anxiety levels.

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    Can Anxiety Cause Heart Problems

    Heart problems originate from many sources, including lifestyle and genetics. Anxiety may be one of these contributing factors, but this relationship has not yet been proven.

    Nonetheless, if there is a connection between anxiety and heart problems, it would most likely be an effect seen in the long run. Our hearts are designed to handle the occasional stressful situation. Prolonged periods of anxiety, however, may cause heart problems.

    Anxiety can cause Tachycardia, or rapid heart rate. While anxiety doesnt cause hypertension, it can cause high blood pressure. The extra strain on the heart from continued anxiety may be more damaging to someone who has an existing heart condition.

    Anxiety may also increase the amount of time required to recover from a heart condition.

    What Causes Chest Pain

    Can stress cause heart disease? Dr. Anand Shenoy

    It is always a good idea to visit a doctor at least once to rule out any potential heart health issues. Anxiety can cause chest pain, but an important factor in reducing the stress of that chest pain is by making sure you are confident that your heart is in good health. Visiting a doctor is never a bad thing!

    Often those living with anxiety and panic attacks will experience chest pain caused by any number of different factors. Some of these include:

    • Hyperventilation – Those with panic attacks and anxiety are prone to hyperventilation, or breathing in too much oxygen. It is often due to rapid muscle contractions and excess air in the lungs. Hyperventilation contracts blood vessels and causes considerable chest pain.
    • Bloating – anxiety can be connected to excess gas or bloating. Hyperventilation disorder can contribute to this as well. Bloating can cause an increased amount of pressure on the lungs, which in turn leads to chest pain.
    • Psychosomatic – most people don’t like to believe the idea that the problem is in their head, but those with extreme anxiety and panic attacks, that are worried about their health, may feel genuine pain even though no cause of pain is present. Psychosomatic means that a physical ailment is aggravated or caused by their thoughts. The anxious mind actually convinces the body that there is a symptom, in this case chest pain.

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