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Can Anxiety Cause Heart Problems? 5 Ways to Cope 2023
Anxiety is a natural bodily response to stress, whether it be physical or mental. In this day and age, many of us tend to be exposed to many mental stressors daily. Anxiety can sometimes be beneficial, helping to motivate us to accomplish tasks to be relieved of this unpleasant mental state.
Unfortunately, many people have high amounts of stress that can lead to unhealthy levels of anxiety, while others have mental disturbances such as anxiety disorder that cause chronically high anxiety levels that can be debilitating.
Elevated levels of stress can contribute to various health conditions such as suppressed immune function, stomach ulcers, worsening of other mental diseases, and cardiovascular disease. The effects of chronic anxiety on the cardiovascular system can lead to many heart conditions and diseases.
However, there are several ways to decrease your risk of developing heart conditions due to anxiety.
The Effect Of Anxiety On The Heart
Anxiety CAN cause heart problems. Chronic anxiety and stress can cause changes in the body and unhealthy lifestyle choices that contribute to creating and worsening heart problems.
The effects of anxiety can be reduced by various methods to reduce risk of heart disease.
Can Anxiety Cause Heart Problems?
Chronic anxiety disorders have direct effects on the body that may contribute to heart disease. These effects include:
- Increased Inflammation.
- Disturbance of the lining of the heart.
- Clotting disfunction.
- Disrupting bodily homeostasis.
- Increased blood pressure.
Anxiety also can lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices that can jeopardize heart health, such as:
- Unhealthy diet.
- Sedentary lifestyle.
- Increased risk of smoking.
You might be wondering, can heart disease cause more anxiety?
Unfortunately, the mental and physical stresses caused by heart disease can lead to more anxiety, causing a cycle that worsens heart problems. Because of this, it is important to recognize the signs of chronic anxiety and take steps to reduce them to maintain a healthy heart.
The symptoms of anxiety disorders can vary from person to person depending upon the severity and type of anxiety disorder. Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Being tense.
- Concentration problems.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Excessive worrying.
- Nausea or diarrhea.
Treatment Of Anxiety And Heart Disease
As anxiety is associated with increased chances of developing and worsening heart disease, reducing anxiety may help decrease stress on the heart.
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Treatment of anxiety depends on the type of anxiety disorder. Many of the common anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic attacks can be treated using one of the many types of therapy available.
Therapy can help you learn relaxation techniques to help manage your anxiety, such as:
- Guided imagery.
- Progressive muscle relaxation.
- Breathing exercises.
It may be necessary to seek the help of a medical professional if your anxiety continues to affect your quality of life. They may prescribe you medication to help with your anxiety.
If you already have pre-existing heart disease, there are several ways to help prevent it from worsening while also lowering anxiety levels. Many of these healthy habits include lifestyle changes to decrease anxiety; such as exercising, healthy eating, and avoidance of drugs such as nicotine and alcohol.
Both anxiety and heart disease may require medication to help manage symptoms. It is important to take medications as prescribed. You should speak with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regime.
5 Tips For Coping With Anxiety And Heart Disease
If you suffer from the debilitating effects of anxiety and heart disease, there are many options to help you to cope with these difficult conditions.
Anxiety can be caused or worsened by physical and mental fatigue. By getting an adequate amount of quality sleep, you can help to reduce levels of stress by reducing fatigue and improving your ability to tackle problems that may be contributing to stress.
It is recommended most people get seven or more hours of quality sleep a night. If you have difficulty getting enough quality sleep, there are several options to improve the quality of your sleep. Improving your sleep can lead to lower stress levels and reduced anxiety.
Meditation And Mindfulness
Meditation has been used by people for thousands of years to soothe the mind and improve overall wellness. Mindful meditation can have profound effects on the quality of life for those who practice it by directly reducing anxiety and promoting mental calm.
Meditation and mindfulness may not only help with heart disease by decreasing stress, but also by its effects on decreasing blood pressure, cravings for drugs such as alcohol, and improving the quality of sleep.
The food that you eat plays a large role, not only in heart health but also stress. Healthy dietary habits along with intake of fruits and vegetables, prebiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential minerals have been shown to reduce levels of anxiety.
Avoiding certain foods can have just as big an impact on anxiety and heart health. Foods that may help with anxiety are generally low in saturated fats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates; so it is best to avoid foods that are high in these nutrients.
Therapy is another option for those suffering from mental illness. People with anxiety disorders or struggling mentally from the difficulties associated with heart disease can find useful guidance to cope with anxiety through therapy.
Therapy sessions are now offered through many great therapy programs online that can be done from the comfort of your own home. One such online therapy outlet that can be beneficial to those with a variety of different mental health problems including anxiety is Talkspace.
If your anxiety is severe or does not improve through other methods of stress reduction, you may want to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional for help. They may recommend you start taking medication to help reduce levels of anxiety or heart medication to relieve heart disease symptoms.
Anti-anxiety medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, or beta-blockers may be prescribed by a health provider if other treatments are insufficient.
Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain have been linked to increased levels of anxiety. SSRIs such as antianxiety/antidepressant medications that work by increasing the level of the serotonin in the brain which may help reduce anxiety symptoms. The anxiety reduction effects of SSRIs can take up to six weeks to occur.
Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that act in the central nervous system to reduce anxiety. They have more immediate effects of reducing anxiety, taking effect about 30 minutes after ingestion, but only act on reducing anxiety for a few hours. They also have a higher risk of drug abuse and so should be avoided in those with a history of drug addiction.
While not approved by the FDA for treatment of anxiety disorders, beta-blockers may help with anxiety by reducing associated symptoms such as fast heart rate, sweating, and tremor. Beta-blockers are FDA-approved in the treatment of a variety of heart diseases and contributing factors to developing heart disease such as reducing high blood pressure.
Medications such as these may be prescribed by your healthcare professional to help in reducing anxiety or the risk factors and symptoms or heart disease.
Mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders can have a large effect on a person’s health. Chronic anxiety disorders can lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease, through the many negative effects it has on the normal functioning of the body and its association with unhealthy lifestyle choices.
There are many ways to reduce your risk factors for heart disease by reducing stress and anxiety. These include making positive lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol and nicotine, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting adequate rest.
If these options do not work for you, you may want to try therapy or ask your healthcare provider if they think anxiety medication is right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Severe anxiety can contribute to heart problems by increasing risk factors for heart disease such as increased blood pressure, sugar, triglycerides, and bad cholesterol.
Anxiety leads to a variety of conditions in the body that can lead to heart problems including irregular heart rhythm, plaque build-up, and heart attack.
You can help someone with anxiety by being present and supportive, offering comfort and an open line of communication when needed. It may also help to learn more about anxiety to better understand what they are experiencing.
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