Information Centre

Link between Stress & Anxiety with Heart Conditions


Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.  Some symptoms of stress can be elevated blood pressure, Rapid Heartbeat, Sweaty Palms, Heart Palpitations, Cold Hands / Feet, Dizziness and Chest Pain.

Chronic Stress leads to serious health problems because it disrupts nearly every system in your body. Part of what makes chronic stress so insidious is its ability to become a “normal” feeling, it becomes the familiar. This pattern of enduring is what makes chronic stress such a serious health issue.

Poverty, trauma, general pressure from the demands of life, and more can all cause chronic stress. Chronic stress can lead to cancer, strokes, and heart attacks, as well as violent behaviour and even suicide.  While under stress, your heart pumps faster, this can result in increased blood pressure, resulting in stroke or heart attack.

How does one better manage Stress:

Relaxation Techniques: These are activities that trigger the relaxation response, a physiological change that can help lower your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, and stress hormones.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: CBT is based on the idea that changing unhealthy thinking can change your emotions. A CBT therapist will help you identify negative thinking and learn to automatically replace it with healthy or positive thoughts, reducing stress.

Realistic Goal Setting: Setting goals can have a positive effect, provide one with a sense of commitment, feel they’re in control, and are optimistic. Set goals in your career, relationships, creativity, play, and health can really help manage stress.

Exercise Regularly:  In addition to having physical health benefits, exercise has been shown to be a powerful stress reliever. Exercise releases endorphins—natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude.

Daily Reflection: Conduct daily check in’s, how are you? What do you need to help yourself? When you’re feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of what you do well. Try to have a healthy sense of self.

Prioritize Yourself:  The more your actions reflect your beliefs, the better you will feel, no matter how busy your life is. It’s okay to say “No” to demands on your time and energy that will place too much stress on you. You don’t always have to meet the expectations of others.


Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes.  The right psychotherapy, will teach you to control your anxiety, will offer relief from anxiety in a matter of weeks, about the same amount of time it takes for any meds to become effective.

Talk Therapy

Therapists know that eliminating symptomatology isn’t the same as eliminating aetiology. Underlying psychological causes or triggers for anxiety, such as those stemming from trauma, are not the target of management techniques; they require longer-term psychotherapy. However, anxiety-management techniques can offer relief, and offer it very speedily.  The unpleasant symptoms most likely to be helped by medication are the very ones that your therapist can assist you to correct.

Anxiety Symptoms – three typical clusters:

– the physical arousal that constitutes the terror of panic.

– the “wired” feelings of tension that correlate with being “stressed out” and can include pit-of-the-stomach doom.

– the mental anguish of rumination–a brain that won’t stop thinking distressing thoughts.

A therapist armed with methods for addressing these clusters can offer her anxious client the promise of relief.

Similarity between Anxiety/Panic Attack & Heart Attack

Sometimes people who are going through an anxiety / panic attack think they are having a heart attack. The thought of suffering from a heart attack can be very frightening and make you more anxious.  Therefore, it is important to know the difference.

*If you are having chest pain frequently and it is long lasting then please see your GP*

Otherwise have a look at the table below:

Anxiety / Panic AttackHeart Attack
PainAny pain is usually described as ‘sharpIt may or may not be present.
The pain tends to be felt over the heartIf present, you may have a ‘crushing’ feeling in your chest (like someone standing on your chest)
The pain is usually made worse by breathing in and out and pressing on the centre of the chestPain is not usually made worse by breathing or by pressing on the chest.
Pain usually disappears within 5 – 10 minsPain is usually persistent and lasts longer than 5 minutes.

Free Support Available:

Turn2Me have several weekly support groups, and one to one counselling sessions available to assist with managing stress, arming users with the tools they need to identify and reduce their levels of stress.  Sign up today