We all have stress sometimes. What causes stress for you may not be stressful for someone else. Sometimes stress is helpful - it can prepare your body to adjust to a dangerous situation or help motivate you to get things done. But long-term, chronic stress can increase the risk of diseases like heart disease, anxiety disorders, depression, and a variety of other health problems affecting every major organ system of your body.
View an interactive graphic on the effects of stress on human physiology.
According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 75 percent of all medical visits have an emotional stress-related component. Stress therefore constitutes a very significant health and economic problem.
Stress hormones help the body defend itself when threatened; but these biochemical changes, if they occur repeatedly or over a long time, can make the heart more vulnerable to disease. When your blood pressure and heart rate are always elevated, circulatory illness and other forms of heart disease can result. Stress-related illnesses do not always have to be a direct result of an excess of stress hormones, but also may occur when the immune system is compromised by stress, making your body more vulnerable to disease.
Courtesy: The American Psychological Association (APA)
According to WebMD, the number one stress related medical problem is heart disease. Researchers have long suspected that chronic stress leads to higher risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. Multiple recent studies have supported this theory. The effects of stress seems to provoke the inflammation response, and this likely has a direct effect on the heart and blood vessels. It's also possible that stress is related to other problems -- an increased likelihood of smoking, drinking or obesity -- that indirectly increase the heart risks.
Medical researchers do know that sudden emotional stress can be a trigger for serious cardiac problems, including heart attacks. People who have chronic heart problems need to avoid acute stress as much as they can.
Other stress related medical problems treated at Allied Psychophysiology include headaches, panic attacks, and gastrointestinal pain (like IBS).