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Can stress cause a heart attack?

By July 16, 2014 - 4:23pm
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Lately, I've been very stressed at work. I am relatively young, but heart attacks run in my family (genetic, not lifestyle related) can stress in my life cause heart problems? I often find myself breathing harder, heart rate elevated, shaking, and other stress-related symptoms. Is there anything I can do to help my stress levels?

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Hello Ali,

A family history of cardiac disease puts you at risk. Several genetic disorders are associated with increased risk of premature heart attacks. A relatively common disorder is familial hypercholesterolemia, which causes high levels of "bad" cholesterol (low density lipoprotein, or LDL cholesterol) beginning at birth. About one out of 500 people in the United States inherit this condition.

Heart disease can cluster in families. Family medical history offers important information for identifying risk in individuals. Such histories can capture the effects and interactions of shared genetic and environmental factors that lead to disease in a family.

Chronic stress exposes your body to unhealthy, persistently elevated levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attack.

There are many stress management techniques. Meditation, yoga and progressive muscle relaxation are just three. Identify what is causing you stress and work on way to better cope. If you are overwhelmed with tasks, ask for help or learn to say no.

Take measures now to reduce your risk for a heart attack.


July 21, 2014 - 5:37pm
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