Stress Management for Your Heart: Why it’s Critical

Dr. Joseph Freedman MD, MBA

Stress Management for Your Heart: Why it’s CriticalWe all know it’s imperative to keep ourselves healthy through exercise, eating right, and warding off viruses and infections. However, one of the most overlooked stressors on our hearts is—anxiety.

According to the American Heart Association, “More research is needed to determine how stress contributes to heart disease — the leading killer of Americans. But stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity, and overeating. Some people may choose to drink too much alcohol or smoke cigarettes to “manage” their chronic stress; however, these habits can increase blood pressure and may damage artery walls.

And your body’s response to stress may be a headache, back strain, or stomach pains. Stress can also zap your energy, wreak havoc on your sleep and make you feel cranky, forgetful and out of control. A stressful situation sets off a chain of events. Your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. These reactions prepare you to deal with the situation — the “fight or flight” response.

When stress is constant, your body remains in high gear off and on for days or weeks at a time. Although the link between stress and heart disease isn’t clear, chronic stress may cause some people to drink too much alcohol which can increase your blood pressure and may damage the artery walls.”

If you find that you are feeling more stressed than normal it’s important to take time for yourself, relax and do something that brings you joy, even if that’s simply taking a nap!

Dr. Freedman’s Tips to Relieve Stress

Tip #1
Take Time for Yourself—Read a book, take a warm Epsom salt bath, get a massage, take a relaxing drive, take a nap, meditate, pray, or simply watch your favorite program on TV (not an action packed thriller) can be very relaxing and relieve some stress.

Tip #2
Exercise—Increasing cardiovascular exercise is critical for oxygen intake, circulation, and increasing both brain and heart health. It can also be a wonderful outlet to release frustration and lower blood pressure. People that exercise regularly, have significantly lower stress and cortisol levels. It’s important to speak to your cardiologist or primary care doctor before embarking on any new exercise program. For those with cardiovascular disease, it’s well known that swimming or water aerobics are exceptional options to safely increase cardio without as much vigor as with land exercising. Also, low impact exercise like walking, Yoga or Pilates are also beneficial ways to get your cardio in without overdoing it.

Tip #3
Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms—If you have any issues with anxiety, stress, PTSD or changes in your heart rate, blood pressure or are experiencing tightness or palpitations, don’t ignore your symptoms. If stress or cardiac issues are left untreated, they can create exacerbated conditions or even death. Talk to your physician right away if you notice any changes in your health.

If you believe you are having a heart attack or stroke, call 911! If you’re having initial symptoms that come and go, contact your cardiologist immediately.

Joseph Freedman, M.D., Cardiac Care Group
Dr. Freedman brings many years of experience as a cutting edge cardiologist specializing in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of all cardiac disease. He trained at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, continually ranked #1 in Cardiovascular Care, where he focused on cardiac imaging. He achieved five board certifications in Internal Medicine, Cardiology, Comprehensive Adult ECHO, Nuclear Cardiology and Cardiac CT. During his tenure as the lead noninvasive cardiologist at Florida Medical Center in Ft. Lauderdale, he helped lead the hospital to achieve Level 5 chest pain certification, the highest designation of cardiac excellence.

He has spoken on national health care radio programs and has appeared on local news, highlighting the latest in cardiovascular care. Dr. Freedman prides himself on being an advocate for the patient. Every patient is unique, and he works carefully with leading local and national experts to make sure patients receive the best specialty procedural care possible for that particular case. Dr. Freedman has done research in cardiac MRI studies of the heart, in nuclear scanning, and has participated in the research trials of several leading cholesterol-lowering drugs. Dr. Freedman also has extensive experience in pulmonary hypertension and ran a large clinic in Broward County for these specific and often undiagnosed patients. Dr. Freedman speaks Spanish.

Contact Cardiac Care Group at (239) 574-8463

Cardiac Care Group
3208 Chiquita Blvd S., Suite 110, Cape Coral, FL 33914

(239) 574-8463

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