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How stress affects your heart

(The Telegraph) When your body senses danger, it triggers a stress response that starts in your brain’s hypothalamus gland, which sends signals to the adrenals (two glands that sit on top of the kidneys) to release stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenalin. These raise blood pressure and give your body a hit of glucose to help you outrun the immediate danger.
“Cortisol and other stress hormones are important because they prime our bodies to react to threat,” says Dr Valeria Mondelli, senior lecturer in psychological medicine at King’s College London. “But when our cortisol is too high for too long, it can lead to physical and mental health problems in many areas of our bodies.”…
During the stress response, your breathing increases and heart beats faster in an effort to pump more oxygen and blood to your muscles, preparing it for fight or flight. Stress hormones also cause your blood vessels to constrict and raise your blood pressure. Indeed, earlier this month German researchers found that those who were constantly exposed to traffic noise were at higher risk of heart attack because of the increased stress noise pollution put on their bodies.
But there’s more to it than the consequences of an increased heartbeat, says Dr Mondelli. “Elevated stress hormones over time lead to inflammation that damages the internal lining of the blood vessels which can facilitate the production of artherosclerotic plaques that clog up the arteries, increasing risk of heart attack,” she explains
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