GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)-We know that stress is a contributor to heart disease , the number one killer of Americans. According to, stress can also affect heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating. Some people choose to partake in unhealthy habits to “manage” their stress, however these habits like smoking, overeating and drinking too much can increase blood pressure and cause even more damage to the body.

Stress can cause additional issues and may lead to headache, back strain, or stomachaches. Stress can also make you feel tired and overwhelmed. Click the video above to watch. Metro Health Cardiologist, Dr. Barbara Karenko talks about the relation between stress and Cardiomyopathy, a group of diseases that affect the heart muscle. Many people experience shortness of breath, feeling tired , and swelling of the legs occur due to the onset of heart failure. An irregular heart beat and fainting may occur. Some people experience few or no symptoms during Cardiomyopathy while others experience severe symptoms.

According to the American Heart Association, when your body goes through a stressful event, a chain of reactions occurs. Your body releases adrenaline, causing your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure to increase. This causes your body to go into what’s known as — the “fight or flight” response.

A few studies have examined how well treatment or therapies work in reducing the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease. Studies using psychosocial therapies – involving both psychological and social aspects – are promising in the prevention of second heart attacks. After a heart attack or stroke, people who feel depressed, anxious or overwhelmed by stress should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professionals.

The American Heart Association, and states that managing stress is a good for your overall health, and researchers are currently studying whether managing stress is effective for heart disease.

“Exercising, maintaining a positive attitude, not smoking, not drinking too much coffee, enjoying a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are good ways to deal with stress, said Schiffrin, who is also the Canada research chair in hypertension and vascular research at Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research. “All those people are doing the right thing,” said Schiffrin, a volunteer with the American Heart Association.

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