Focusing on the heart
“Everyone gets stressed,” according to Dr. Mikhail Kosiborod, Consultant Cardiologist, The Heart Health Centre, Cayman Islands. However certain types of behaviour can actually cause heart disease. The Journal finds out more. Second in a two-part series.
According to Kosiborod, speaking at the Cayman Heart Fund’s fair earlier this year with a presentation titled “Know Your Stress: How Behaviour Impacts Heart Disease”, emotional mental health disorders are very powerful risk factors for developing cardio vascular disease.
“Those who are clinically depressed have an almost three-fold increased likelihood of developing CVD,” he stated.
Clinical depression is a more important indicator that the patient will go on to develop heart disease than diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking and age, he said.
This is because stress causes a build up of fatty plaques within the circulatory system which can lead to a heart attack.
Kosiborod referred to broken heart syndrome, which comes about when the heart is under acute stress and is more common in women than men.
The syndrome can come about from all manner of events which have caused the patient severe emotional stress, such as death, robbery, divorce, etc.
“The heart looks OK but it behaves as if it is having a heart attack,” the doctor said. “It can take weeks to recover.”
Kosiborod explained how heart failure was caused: “Cholesterol deposits build up in the blood vessels. Fat attracts inflamed cells and the more inflammation the more likely the fatty plaque build up. Plaque is unstable an can rupture the vessel and cause a blood clot which in turn can lead to a heart attack because it cuts off the blood supply to the heart.”
Alcohol, although a popular “de-stressor” for people (that regular couple of glasses of wine or few pints of beer after work), was not in the doctor’s opinion a healthy way to deal with stress.
“There is no way to avoid stress, you just have to employ successful stress management techniques to live with it,” Kosiborod said.
Yoga, deep breathing, ensuring you eat healthily, take regular exercise and have a positive attitude were all great methods of managing stress.
“Happy people are less likely to develop heart disease,” he confirmed.