Important to some healthful heart lies further than work out | Why managing tension, stress and anxiety is paramount

San Diego’s one of a kind, laid-back way of life could be a sanctuary for a lot of. But, we are not proof against anxiety and anxiety, America’s most popular mental health issues.

American Coronary heart Month finishes in February, even so the focus on holding your heart healthier surely should not.

San Diego’s one of a kind, laid-back way of life can be a sanctuary for a lot of. Still, we’ve been not immune to strain and anxiousness, America’s most popular psychological illness influencing forty million grown ups each and every year, in accordance into the Stress & Depression Association of America.

As a licensed clinical psychologist and clinical supervisor, Dr. Maya D’eon sees how anxiety and nervousness play out, firsthand, at Rogers Behavioral Health in Rancho Bernardo.

“Stress really is the physical and the psychological reaction we have to a stressor, which is essentially anything happening outside of us that causes us strain,” D’Eon explained.

Strain is our fight or flight reflex. In the animal kingdom, the threat is real, for example, prey trying to escape a predator. But for people, it doesn’t have to be.

“Humans have this one of a kind ability to imagine,” D’Eon said. “So, we can just imagine something happening, either hasn’t happened nonetheless or we can think back again into the past, and we can create and generate that same internal physical reaction.”

Imagined or not, we’ve recently gone through what D’Eon calls “collective strain,” like the impact of the pandemic.

“If we’re already dealing with personal worry, it’s just adding on extra layers of strain, globally,” she said. “So, we’re seeing this increase across the board for things like strain, anxiousness, and depression.”

A late 2022 poll from the American Psychiatric Association found 37% of Americans rated their psychological health fair or poor, up from 31% in 2021. Meantime, 26% of people expected to be more stressed out this year.

Dr. Lori Daniels, a cardiovascular medicine professor and Director of the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Health, says she’s seeing the results of that poll in her office.

“I’m seeing a lot more stress in my office in the clinic and in the hospital,” Daniels said. “I have patients coming and telling me, ‘I am stressed out and my blood pressure numbers are off the chart.'”

Daniels explained that while scientifically different from a cardiac event, like a heart attack, stress and anxiousness do affect the coronary heart and the cardiovascular system, especially in the long term.

“When someone is under tension, there’s a lot of hormones that get released, the flight or fight hormones, like adrenaline,” Daniels said. “That sends a direct signal for the heart to beat faster and beat stronger, and it triggers a whole cascade of effects.”

Daniels further explained in a real heart attack, one of the blood vessels supplying blood towards the coronary heart is blocked, leaving the coronary heart with insufficient blood flow and, essentially, part of the heart muscle is starting to die.

Some conditions can mimic a coronary heart attack
The tricky thing is, your body might use the same symptoms like an ache in your arm, your neck, or chest pain to show you there’s a problem.

Daniels admitted, even among experts, it’s not always clear cut.

There are even more conditions that can mimic coronary heart attack symptoms. Stress Induced Cardiomyopathy is one of them which is commonly known as Broken Heart Syndrome.

“When someone has a major sudden stressor in their life, like the unexpected death of a loved one or a major operation or trauma, sometimes that can trigger a big heart-attack-like reaction that is usually serious,” she said.

Heart disease
CDC data shows heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, killing almost 700,000 people in 2020.
In California, that number’s about 66,500 people.
In San Diego County, heart disease killed almost 2,100 people in 2021, making it the county’s second leading cause of death, behind cancer.
While some tension here and there likely won’t cause a heart attack, and is in fact healthier for humans, in accordance to experts, long, unchecked periods of it are usually not.

“We will not be going to function well if we’ve been not doing things like sleeping sufficiently, eating, hydrating, taking care of ourselves by getting movement throughout the day,” D’Eon said. “Those building blocks are so crucial.”

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