Stress and Anxiety Symptoms
A common reason many people seek emergency medical treatment is for chest pain. Stress and anxiety is frequently the underlying cause when pain cannot be linked to heart disease or other illness.
The discomfort of angina is usually felt as pressure, a heavy dull ache, squeezing, tightening or a burning sensation underneath the breastbone. It can mimic a heart attack. Typically it lasts a short time (five minutes or less) and disappears with rest.
While chest pain from stress occurs fairly often, symptoms should always be professionally diagnosed.
A misconception is in just assuming that your chest pain is stress related and eventually will go away. Get prompt medical attention to be sure.
So what’s behind stress and chest pain?
The challenge is when your heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption suddenly and repeatedly spike! How often your
takes over is key.
During this period muscles tense and blood flow is quickly diverted to vital areas.
Shunting blood means the dilation of some blood vessels and constriction of others.
We know that having high blood pressure damages the smooth interior lining of blood vessels. Circulating particles of sugar, fat, and cholesterol collect in these areas, then harden and obstruct blood flow—the beginning of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.
Stress hormones also tend to thicken the blood to promote clotting…
That’s a good thing if your response is to fight rather than flight… NOT so good when you have a rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and constricted arteries clogged with sticky plaque.
Your chest pain then starts taking on a whole new meaning!
Anxiety, Chest Pain and Stress
With any extreme emotion like fear, excitement or anger, breathing from the upper chest becomes rapid and shallow. A poor exchange of carbon dioxide in the lower lungs can further reduce oxygen reaching the heart and contribute to angina pain.
And if that weren’t enough—during these times, arteries are subject to spasms that allow even less space for blood flow.
Though it can be a very frightening experience, stress chest pain is not life threatening in itself, as it does not permanently damage heart muscle. But the fear of having a heart attack (whoa!) can intensify the anxiety, which in turn cause symptoms to escalate into a vicious cycle.
In fact, with some people it can become extreme and reoccur without warning.
Emotional-triggered anxiety may be so severe that that the sufferer ends up in the emergency room—thinking the worst—with very real chest pain, stress induced anxiety and panic attacks.
Your Mind + Your Body = YOU
The more you understand stress and anxiety symptoms, the better chance you have in preventing and controlling them.
An extremely important aspect of the stress response is its direct and rapid effect on the cardiovascular system.
DID YOU KNOW... Research shows that psychological distress is one of the strongest risk factors for heart attacks.
If responsibilities and worries continually get you into a frenzy, your brain picks up on that.
The most dangerous thing about stress is how easily it can creep into your life. You don’t notice how much it’s affecting you. Without realizing it, your fight-or-flight response becomes much more reactive and harder to turn off!
Your mind and body is actually ONE unit. A positive attitude and how you respond to pressure will greatly impact mental and physical health.
When dealing with chest pain, stress relief strategies can be a very valuable tool...
A little exercise, getting enough sleep and eating right will also help reduce tension, strengthen your resistance and get you on the right track.
Some of these
natural stress relief
ideas you'd find to be fun and downright enjoyable!
such as deep breathing, biofeedback, or yoga are additional ways to calm down.
Behavioral therapy and the more traditional methods using medications also exist. Discuss your health concerns with your doctor to ensure a program suited to your particular needs.
And learn to relax—for the sake of your heart.
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