STRESS AND THE HEART

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by COOKIEMONSTER, Jul 15, 2003.

  1. COOKIEMONSTER

    COOKIEMONSTER New Member

    "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers"
    By Robert M. Sapolsky

    Stress and the Heart

    The hormones released during a stressful event will make your heart beat faster and stronger to increase the blood flow to the brain and muscles. The blood vessels will also contract the help raise the blood pressure so the blood will get to its destination faster and more efficiently.

    Blood flow is diverted from the stomach and digestive organs and kidneys and directed to the exercising muscles and brain. Unused muscle won't get much blood flow. With decreased blood flow, the kidneys will slow down production of urine. This helps to keep blood volume up in case of injury. Vasopressin is the hormone produced that will raise blood pressure at the same time as decreasing urine output.

    If urine output is decreased, why is it that when we are REALLY terrified, we wet our pants? Kidneys regulate how much water actually goes into the urine, but once it reaches the bladder, it is set. If we were to have to literally run for our lives, the extra weight of the urine stored in the bladder could slow us up just enough to endanger our life, so our body gets rid of it.

    The blood clotting mechanisms are primed for clotting to help reduce blood loss in case of injury. Chronic stress can produce "sticky blood" that is more prone to clot at the wrong time.

    However, if the stressor is such that requires vigilance but no immediate action, the heart rate will slow down, while vascular resistance remains high. This can cause high blood pressure if it is prolonged.

    Just thinking about certain stressors will stimulate this response, even if the actually stressor is not real.

    Damage to the cardiovascular system occurs when there is frequent or chronic stress. The blood vessels continually split into branches (so many branches that each cell is no more than 5 cells away from a blood vessel at any one time). When pressure is high, the blood vessels get stressed at each branch, and may develop defects which need to be repaired. These repairs can get out of hand, forming plaque, which causes the vessels to become narrow, decreasing blood flow and raising pressure and causing more damage. (There are other factors that can damage blood vessels as well, but are not discussed in this book.) Extensive plaque causes Atherosclerosis, also known as hardening of the arteries.

    Social stress, or instability will increase the risk of atherosclerosis multiple times. If you can get yourself into a stable environment, where you have some control over what is done, you will have less social stress. If your environment is constantly changing and you have little control, your chance of a heart attack or stroke is very high. Beta-blockers can block some of the effects of stress on the heart.

    Diet also plays a part in this. If the cells are full of saturated fat, they are more likely to clump together and cause problems. (However, the liver has a great deal to say about how much fat actually gets into the blood stream and may raise cholesterol levels even when the diet is low in saturated fats. Trans-fats may be worse at encouraging blood to clump.)

    Once the cardiovascular system has been damaged, it is more prone to damage during subsequent stress events. And sometimes the damage from one event is so great as to cause ventricular fibrillation or sudden death, even without evidence of previous damage. Prolonged stress can make a heart more vulnerable to fibrillation even hours after the event has ended.

    "When it comes to the cardiovascular system, rage and ecstasy, grief and triumph all represent challenges to allostatic equilibrium."

    Different people respond to stressors in different ways, and the response to similar stressors can vary greatly from one event to another, even in the same person.

    Anne M., RN
  2. rigby

    rigby New Member

    I was dx with FM in Oct and CFS in 1994 I did not realize just how must stress I was having had tachacardia for a while place on beta blocker to late in April I had a heart attach so we really need to watch our heart S Rigby RN
  3. klutzo

    klutzo New Member

    I keep telling doctors that my over-reactions to stress are going to kill me, but they pay little attention. My blood pressure soars, despite medication, when I get mad. I recently read a study that says this happens even to people who are on 2 or 3 different blood pressure meds. In the presence of authority especially, like doctors and bosses, our blood pressure will spike just as high with meds as without, and it is these spikes that cause strokes.
    I think we people with Fibro are more sensitive than average and need to be extra careful not to stress ourselves more than necessary. That is why I got rid of most of the toxic people who were making me mad. I would think of that person, and ask myself : "Is this person worth dying over?" The answer was always "no".
    Klutzo