How Stress Affects Heart Health Interview

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Dr. Nieca Goldberg
Dr. Nieca Goldberg

In this how does stress affect heart health interview, Dr. Goldberg discusses how your anxiety can affect your cardiovascular health. Dr. Nieca Goldberg is a cardiologist who has her own practice, Total Heart Care, which is part of NYU Women's Heart Program. She is also a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, formerly the Chief of Women's Cardiac Care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Director for the NYU Women's Heart Program.

How Stress Affects Heart Health Interview

LoveToKnow (LTK): How do people know their level of stress is enough to affect their heart?

Dr. Nieca Goldberg (NG): You don't know that until you see a doctor. You may have high blood pressure, fast heart rate, and emotional stress can also provoke heart attack symptoms.

LTK: How do stress levels affect heart health?

NG: Both emotions cause an increase in stress hormones raising blood pressure and heart rate. They can also raise levels of blood sugar. All of these increases put pressure on the heart leading to problems.

LTK: What is the difference between anger and stress when it comes to how they affect a body's physiology?

NG: There is no difference because both release hormones that cause physiological changes that put strain on the heart, which could lead to a heart attack.

LTK: What are some signs that people are under too much pressure that could cause heart damage?

NG:

  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches

Types of Stress and They Affect the Heart

LTK: Is there any difference between emotional and physical stress in relation to how it affects the heart?

NG: The body reacts the same. It's the precipitating cause that is different.

LTK: Does stress affect a woman's heart differently than a man's heart?

NG: Men and women may handle anger and stress differently but the physiology is the same. Men tend to show their anger and women tend to hold it in. Either way, you increase stress hormones that affect the heart.

LTK: Do short-term traumatic events affect the heart enough to cause serious damage or is it only chronic stress that causes life-threatening heart conditions?

NG: This is unclear because research has mostly been on chronic stress.

How to Lessen Your Risk for Heart Disease with Stress Reduction

LTK: Are there stress-reducing techniques that directly lessen the strain on the heart?

NG:

  • Meditation lowers blood pressure
  • Aerobic exercise improves mood, lowers blood pressure and heart rate
  • Yoga lowers heart rate and blood pressure

LTK: What can people do if they work in a stressful work environment or cannot avoid stressors in their life but are worried about its harmful effects on their heart?

NG:

  • Avoid procrastination
  • Shorten your to do list
  • Learn how to delegate
  • Take a walk at lunch time
  • Consider counseling

Complete Guide to Women's Health

Complete Guide to Women's Health

LTK: How does your book explain the importance of stress reduction for women's heart health?

NG: The book comes from my years of experiences as a women's cardiologist and it speaks directly to a woman's needs and situation. I took care to write it in as clear and approachable language as I could - woman-to-woman. Women's bodies are different than men's yet most of the testing is done on male subjects, and in my practice I could see there was a real need for correct information for women. Women often come to me with a lot more stress in their lives than they realize. It's imperative for them to understand that they are different from men; the stressors, effects, and symptoms are all often different.

In the book, I coach women on what they can do for stress relief and if they are having cardiac symptoms. The book provides direction on what to look for in a doctor (cardiologist or otherwise), a list of important information to bring with you to an appointment as well as good questions to ask the doctor when you arrive. Women do not need to be in the dark or given wrong information about stress, their cardiac health or any other health issues anymore.

Thank You to Dr. Goldberg

LoveToKnow would like to thank Dr. Goldberg for taking the time to answer the questions in this how stress affects heart health interview.

How Stress Affects Heart Health Interview