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University Hospitals doctor shares how to take good care of your heart by reducing stress

Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 3:47 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Work, finances, and being thrust into a pandemic. We’ve all been there, trying to deal with stress.

There are different levels of stress, and when it becomes chronic, it can cause major issues, said Dr. Eva Gross medical director of University Hospitals Women’s Cardiovascular Center.

″Chronic stress disrupts the connection between brain and the immune system, which leads to deregulated and increase inflammation,” she said.

That, Gross said, can create a host of problems that includes pain, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. In some cases she says it can be fatal.

″Some people get some symptoms. They are not really aware that it might be related to the heart,” Gross said. “They feel like overwhelmed or very fatigue or anxious, or feel some palpitations or they cannot breathe.”

Some of those symptoms are related to panic attacks. Others could be symptoms of heart disease.

For women there are other additional symptoms to look out for, including indigestion, and pain in the jaw and shoulder.

Chronic stress can even change your behaviors and could lead to smoking, a bad diet, or lack of exercise. So, seeing your primary care doctor once a year for a complete evaluation is really important.

“During this evaluation they should perform cardiovascular risk assessment and depression screening,” said Gross.

It’s important to do things to reduce stress like meditating and going for walks. But if that doesn’t keep your stress level down there are other ways it can be managed.

“We have different pharmacological and non-pharmacological ways of helping patients,” said Gross. “We do have our prevention cardiology team for patients to come and get help. We also have an integrative health network.”

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