Heart attacks can also cause emotional stress

Heart attacks can also cause emotional stress

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Heart attack: Psychological stress situations as triggers are underestimated

According to health experts, psychological stressful situations increase the risk of heart attack even in healthy people. A conscious handling of (emotional) stress is important for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Increased risk of heart attack due to grief or bullying

Most people may be aware that factors such as overweight or obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risk of a heart attack and other heart diseases. However, psychological stressful situations such as grief or bullying also trigger a reaction that is stressful to the heart, even in patients without previous illness. A conscious handling of (emotional) stress is important for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Interpersonal stress in particular can be problematic

As the German Society for Cardiology - Heart and Circulatory Research (DGK) writes in a current communication, enormous psychological stress situations increase the risk of heart attack not only in patients with existing coronary heart disease, but also in patients with no proven previous disease on the coronary arteries.

The spectrum of such extreme stressful situations can therefore range from a bereavement in the family to bullying at the workplace.

According to the experts, it is particularly striking that the stress-related heart attack is triggered above all by emotional stress caused by interpersonal problems.

"The usual everyday stress like a missed tram is not as relevant as interpersonal stress, for example with work colleagues, your partner or family," said Prof. Dr. med. Christiane Waller, spokeswoman for the DGK working group Psychosocial Cardiology.

Emotionally upsetting events can strain the heart

According to the DGK, emotionally disturbing events lead to an alarm reaction of the body: the stress hormones and the sympathetic nervous system are activated.

This has a negative impact on the cardiovascular system. Cardiac output increases, the heart muscle needs more oxygen and the heartbeat accelerates.

Because the vessels constrict in response to the stressful situation and there is a critical increase in blood pressure, the heart and vessels are put under a heavy load.

White blood cells are activated and blood platelets stick together.

"All these factors together and many other cellular phenomena explain well why a heart attack can be more easily caused by stress," said Prof. Hugo Katus, President of the German Society of Cardiology.

"This particularly often affects patients who already have existing coronary artery disease, but it can also affect people who do not have any noteworthy disease of the heart vessels," said the expert.

Many causes of heart attack are possible

A heart attack can have many causes. The classic myocardial infarction arises from a pre-existing disease of the coronary arteries and occlusion of the coronary artery due to a clot formation on an arterioskleotic deposit (type 1 heart attack).

According to the DGK, 20-30 percent of all heart attacks do not have any coronary artery occlusions. Here a critical oxygen debt of the heart muscle arises due to insufficient blood circulation for the oxygen requirement.

Cardiology then speaks of a type 2 heart attack. In this infarct, the angina pectoris complaints (chest pain) and many clinical findings are identical to a classic heart attack caused by a complete vascular occlusion.

However, the patients whose coronary arteries show no critical constrictions despite myocardial infarction are puzzling.

The cause of the infarction in these people has not yet been clarified, but could be a spasm of the vessels (spasm). According to the information, this phenomenon is called MINOCA.

A special cause for an acute illness similar to a heart attack is the so-called broken heart syndrome.

In about two to three percent of all patients with suspected heart attack, this disease is found, which is no less life-threatening than a heart attack.

This condition, which is particularly common in postmenopausal women, is also called Tako-Tsubo syndrome or stress cardiomyopathy.

The trigger is often extreme emotional stress, but also life-threatening situations.

Stress reduction measures

The DGK points out that the acute treatment of stress-related heart attacks does not differ from typical heart attacks.

However, medical specialists should not neglect the triggering psychosomatic factors, particularly in the aftercare of those affected, so that they can take appropriate measures to reduce stress.

Which these depend on the individual needs of the individual patient.

“Some reduce stress by exercising physically. We then advise these patients to do sporting activities, while other patients need more rest, ”explained Waller.

“Tai Chi, Chi Gong or mindfulness-based procedures are particularly popular as relaxation techniques. But a lot of them just help reading a good book. ”

Still the number one killer in Europe

However, less existential stress can increase the risk of heart attack.

Scientists from Munich were able to show that the number of heart attacks increased significantly during the German team's World Cup matches.

While the mortality rate for the various types of heart attack is essentially comparable according to Prof. Katus, register data after situations with high stress levels, such as after earthquakes, show that heart attacks triggered by stress are associated with more complications and larger heart attacks.

So far it is unclear whether heart attacks have different mortality rates depending on the specific trigger situation.

In general, a healthy lifestyle is extremely important for the prevention of cardiovascular events.

This includes, among other things, dealing with stressful situations as consciously as possible. Because cardiovascular diseases are still the number one cause of death in Europe. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Does Anger Hurt Your Heart? (May 2022).


  1. Segenam

    Between us, in my opinion, this is obvious. I found the answer to your question in

  2. Bernhard

    I think you are wrong. Let's discuss this.

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