Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives, but can stress cause heart pain and other health-related issues? When stress starts to impact your health, it may be time to start managing the causes of stress in your life to minimize the risk of stress-induced heart problems in the future.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 75% to 90% of doctor visits have a stress-related component. Further, chronic stress can lead to a multitude of health problems that have been linked with heart failure in the long run.
Read on for a more in-depth look at the answer to, “Can stress cause heart pain?” and learn how to recognize and treat the symptoms of stress.
What Is Stress Pain & What Are the Symptoms?
Stress pains are physical symptoms of pain that come on when a person is experiencing stress. Symptoms vary from person to person. In fact, some people who experience stress daily may no longer notice the symptoms as they become part of daily life. Those of us who are often under stress may experience physical symptoms, including:
- Chest pain
- An upset stomach
- Trouble sleeping
- High blood pressure
During times of stress, the body’s fight-or-flight response releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, according to Parkridge Health System. These symptoms don’t bode well for a person’s long-term health, and most go away when a person stops feeling stressed.
Ongoing nausea and suppressed appetite, for instance, can deprive the body of the nutrients it needs to function. In other words, the immune system loses its ability to function properly, which increases a person’s chances of catching other illnesses. Lack of sleep means the body has less opportunity to repair itself.
Can Stress Cause Heart Pain?
Stress can cause your muscles to become tense and, over time, lead to pain and soreness in virtually any part of the body. Kaiser Permanente lists the neck, back, and shoulders as the most common carriers of stress-related aches and pains in the body. It can also:
- raise your heart rate,
- cause rapid, shallow breathing, making you feel dizzy or lightheaded,
- cause non-cardiac chest pain, which, according to Cleveland Clinic, masquerades as heart pain but is actually in the lungs, esophagus or musculoskeletal tissue surrounding the heart.
That said, there are many causes of heart pain that are not due to stress. If in doubt about whether someone is experiencing cardiac arrest or another type of chest pain, call for medical help and follow guidance before starting CPR.
Can Stress Cause Cardiac Arrest?
Short-term stress does not cause cardiac arrest. However, stress can cause heart pain by exacerbating existing heart conditions. If your heart is already working harder than it should be due to a health condition, stress will undoubtedly have a negative impact on the condition.
Long-term effects of stress can cause heart degradation. One study found patients with stress-related disorders or anxiety have an increased rate of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).
The high blood pressure that often accompanies a stressful life can pose a risk for heart attack and stroke. Another study from 2017 used images of part of the brain involved with fear and stress and found links between stress and cases of cardiovascular disease.
How Do I Treat Stress Sickness?
The best way to prevent stress sickness is to minimize the levels of stress encountered in day to day life. In this case, prevention is better than cure. It would be impossible to remove stress from life completely, so it’s important to manage it with exercise, meditation, and a healthy diet.
If you’re experiencing signs of stress sickness or stress is causing you heart pain, remove yourself from the stressful situation, find an environment in which you feel calm, and seek medical attention.
If someone is presenting symptoms of cardiac arrest, make sure you know when to perform CPR and when to seek medical assistance. If in doubt, always call for professional medical help and follow their guidance to avoid unnecessary harm.
If you’re still wondering, “Can stress cause heart pain?,” just know that stress can both cause short-term heart pain and lead to long-term health conditions. Knowing how to mitigate stress, identify heart pain caused by cardiac arrest, and perform CPR when needed can put you in the best position to jump into action in a medical emergency.
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