Yale: Yes, Stress Can Hurt Your Heart: 3 Things to Know

Yale: Yes, Stress Can Hurt Your Heart: 3 Things to Know

Virtually everyone has experienced stress at one time or another—a feeling of emotional or physical tension that can come from any event or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. But did you know that stress can affect your body—especially your heart?

Many people, over the course of their lives, have experienced acute (or short-term) stress, a physiological and psychological reaction to a specific event that goes away quickly, such as giving a speech (if you are nervous about public speaking), hitting the brakes suddenly to avoid an oncoming car, or having a fight with your partner. Chronic stress, however, is a consistent sense of feeling pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time—it could result from a toxic work environment, for instance, or caregiving, or being unable to pay your bills.

“Stress is sometimes underrecognized as a risk factor for heart disease,” says Rachel Lampert, MD, a Yale Medicine cardiologist.

In fact, some experts go further to say that stress is a leading risk factor for heart disease—the biggest killer in the United States—up there with unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol use, and obesity.

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