Can Anxiety Cause Heart Problems?

Can Anxiety Cause Heart Problems?

The relationship between depression and heart disease has been studied for decades. This relationship is a “two-way street” in which depression can exacerbate heart disease and vice versa. But what about anxiety? Can anxiety disorder create the same type of heart problems as depression? 

As a board-certified cardiologist, Dr. Henock Saint-Jaques and his team of cardiologists at Harlem Cardiology in East Harlem, New York, know that the relationship between anxiety and heart problems can be complex. Anxiety, for instance, can cause chest pain, and many people experience chest pain as a symptom of panic attacks. 

Below, Dr. Saint-Jaques explores this topic in more detail.

Can anxiety cause heart problems?

The short answer is yes. According to multiple studies, anxiety increases the risk of developing heart disease and having a heart attack or stroke

Anxiety is a group of mental health disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Anxiety produces mental symptoms, such as fear and avoidance, but it also produces physical symptoms. Physical symptoms caused by anxiety include:

In short-term cases, anxiety affects the heart for good reason. Your body’s natural response to perceived danger is to increase your heart rate and blood pressure to help you fight the danger or flee the dangerous situation. This is all part of the flight-or-fight response. This is helpful in dangerous situations, such as encountering a rabid dog while out on a jog.

The problem arises when anxiety puts you in a chronic state of flight-or-fight, even if there aren’t any real dangers to flee from or fight. Over time, chronic anxiety leads to chronic tachycardia and chronic high blood pressure. Untreated blood pressure can increase your risk of serious cardiac events, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Heart problems can cause anxiety

The reverse is also true: Heart problems can cause anxiety. For example, if you’ve had a heart attack, you might worry that you’ll have another one. You may even develop PTSD from a heart attack. If you suspect you’ve developed PTSD, don’t hesitate to ask for help. You may benefit from therapy or support groups. 

What can you do if you have anxiety?

The good news is that both anxiety and heart problems are treatable, and exercise is one of the things you can do for both anxiety and heart problems. Exercise boosts coronary circulation, reduces cortisol, improves your mood, and lowers blood pressure. Other lifestyle modifications that help treat both anxiety and heart conditions, include:

If you don’t have heart problems, you can reduce your risk of developing them by managing your anxiety, attending therapy, and taking medication, if directed.

Treating heart problems when you first spot the symptoms

If you already have an underlying heart condition, talk with Dr. Saint-Jacques if you have any concerns about your anxiety affecting your heart health.

To schedule an appointment at our Madison Avenue office, call us at 646-381-2181. Or, you can request an appointment online any time day or night.

You Might Also Enjoy...

What to Do When You Notice Signs of a Stroke

Once you spot the signs of a stroke 一 facial drooping, confusion, and slurred speech 一 what should you do? In this blog, we share three things to do if you (or a loved one) are having a stroke and three things you should avoid.

4 Ways Exercise Can Improve Your Heart Health

Exercise is one of the most important forms of self-care, but how exactly does exercise improve your heart health? Read on to explore what’s happening to your heart when you exercise regularly.

How Does Sleep Loss Impact Cardiovascular Health?

Believe it or not, a good night's sleep is more than just beauty sleep. Your sleep (or lack thereof) has serious ramifications for your heart health. Find out how sleep deprivation affects your heart and what you can do to sleep better.

How Does Sodium Impact Blood Pressure?

Trying to lower your blood pressure levels? The answer may be sitting on your kitchen counter: salt. How do sodium and table salt affect your blood pressure? Find out why the “just right” level of sodium is so critical for your overall health.

5 Tips for Heart-Healthy Holidays

Are you busy preparing for the upcoming holidays? Between shopping, menu planning, and attending parties and family gatherings, don’t forget to take a minute to practice a few heart-healthy habits this holiday season.