Why does stress increase the heart rate

Heart & psyche

There are people "who take everything so to heart" that they actually get heart disease. In around 40% of all patients with heart problems, the doctor finds a typical background to conflict, usually accompanied by fear. Depression behind the suffering.

It is often anxious, depressed people with a certain tendency to hypochondria, who in extreme situations (separation, being abandoned, confrontation with death, etc.) are prone to heart attacks with an irregular pulse, heart pounding, general restlessness and fear of crowding or even death. Your body reacts much more violently to stress than that of mentally balanced people. In addition, the tense state (increased pulse, palpitations, etc.) persists longer, so that any further excitement intensifies the physical reactions and the person concerned can no longer return to normal. Some of them try to cover up their fears through increased sporting activities - by "escaping to health". Patients with heart phobia (including cardiac neurosis or cardiac anxiety disorder) are generally younger than those with organic heart disease: between 18 and 40 years Disease make up a small percentage.

The situation is different with heart attack patients. Physical and psychological factors are roughly in balance here. Basically, being overweight, high blood pressure and high cholesterol or blood sugar levels increase the risk of a heart attack. If those affected are also temperamental, dominant, hyperactive and performance-oriented, psychological stress in work, family or society can lead to a heart attack.

The psyche has the least influence on congenital heart diseases or cardiac tumors (<10%). In return, it influences blood pressure all the more. There are patients who, because of their nature, are prone to hypertension. Often they were brought up to be authoritarian and suffer from their pent-up aggression as adults. They are dominant, resentful and prone to quick anger. In stressful situations, your blood pressure rises enormously due to the increased adrenaline output. They then suffer from headaches, nosebleeds, ringing in the ears, eye flickering, have difficulty concentrating, sweat, sleep poorly and are easily excitable.

Low blood pressure, on the other hand, is often related to withdrawal and depression. About 10% of the population are affected, women 6 times more often than men. Mental tension, suppressed feelings and excessive demands lower the blood pressure of the sensitive patient. As a result, they feel dizzy, weak, and listless. You cannot concentrate, you have difficulty breathing and ringing in your ears, you are cold and you feel tingling in your arms and legs.

It is very difficult for the doctor to diagnose psychosomatic cardiovascular complaints, since his patients only describe physical symptoms to him. The fear of having overlooked an organic cause is great. However, if the reason can be proven to be purely psychological, neither too many check-ups nor cardiovascular medication will help the patient. It is more useful to get him out of his depressed mood, be it with medication or through psychotherapy.