"...but heartache crushes the spirit...."All the days of the afflicted are bad..."
Ever drown your sorrows in a big bowl of ice cream? When you’re feeling down, it’s easy to reach for your favorite comfort food. But thinking about your heart health is important, even when you’re not feeling too chipper.
That’s often easier said than done, said Nieca Goldberg, M.D., medical director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. But it’s also important, because heart disease is the No. 1 killer of all Americans.
“When people are stressed, anxious or feeling down, they’re not apt to make the healthy choice because they’re so overwhelmed by their situation,” Dr. Goldberg said. “A person’s mental health, in terms of their general health, is underestimated.”
Psalm 13:2 ESV
How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Depression is reported in an estimated 1 in 10 of Americans ages 18 and older, and the figure can be as high as 33 percent for heart attack patients. But just feeling down can lead to changes that can affect your health, and not just because you may fall into habits that are bad for your hearth, Dr. Goldberg said.
“Other physiological things are happening in the body, including increased stress hormones, higher levels of cortisol and higher glucose levels,” she said. “Taking care of your overall outlook and well-being is as important as taking care of your blood pressure and cholesterol.”
The symptoms of stress cardiomyopathy or broken heart syndrome are very similar to those of a typical heart attack -- chest pain, shortness of breath, low blood pressure and even congestive heart failure can occur. There are some important differences, however.
In broken heart syndrome, the symptoms occur shortly after an extremely stressful event, such as a death in the family, serious financial loss, extreme anger, domestic abuse, a serious medical diagnosis, or a car accident or other trauma. This stress and the subsequent release of stress hormones are thought to "stun" or "shock" the heart, leading to sudden heart muscle weakness.
This condition can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention, however it is often a temporary condition that leaves no permanent damage. In most cases a typical heart attack occurs due to blockages in the coronary arteries that stop blood flow and cause heart cells to die, leading to irreversible damage. But people with broken heart syndrome often have normal arteries without significant blockages. The symptoms occur due to the emotional stress, so when the stress begins to die down, the heart is able to recover.