Almost all of us know about the conventional risk factors for heart attacks and most health check-ups correctly identify conditions like diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, etc but unfortunately, stress as a cause of heart attack is often missed and neglected. There is often difficulty in the self-realisation of excess stress by patients or their consulting doctors.
Stress is a giant killer and its presence alone is enough to cause a massive heart attack. On top of busy life, Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected the quality of mental health and stress which is a normal part of life has exponentially risen.
Stress can come from physical causes like not getting enough sleep or having an illness or it can be emotional, worrying about not having enough money, death of a loved one and can also come from less dramatic causes like everyday obligations and pressures that make you feel that you are not in control.
However, in the pandemic, the stress of social and emotional distancing, fear of contracting the disease, loss of near and dear ones and loss of job and daily earnings have made life even more stressful.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Brajesh Kumar Kunwar, Senior Cardiologist, Head and Director, Department of Cardiology at Medicover Hospitals in Navi Mumbai, shared, “The body’s response to stress is supposed to protect us but if it’s constant, it can harm us.
The hormone cortisol is released in response to stress. Studies suggest that the high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and blood pressure. These are common risk factors for heart disease.
This stress can also cause changes that promote the buildup of plaque deposits in the arteries. Similarly, catecholamines which are released in bursts in response to stressful events cause surges in blood pressure responsible for heart attacks and heart failures.”
He revealed, “Even minor stress can trigger heart problems like poor blood flow to the heart muscle. This is a condition in which the heart doesn’t get enough blood or oxygen. And, long-term stress can affect how the blood clots.
This makes the blood stickier and increases the risk of stroke and heart attack. In addition, people who have a lot of stress may smoke or choose other unhealthy ways to deal with stress. Common responses to stress include aches and pains, decreased energy and sleep, feelings of anxiety, anger and depression, impatience and forgetfulness.” Source: HT