Chest hurts from stress

Are They Linked?: Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute: Cardiologists

Anxiety and Chest Pain: Are They Linked?: Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute: Cardiologists

Chest pain is a frightening experience that sends many people to the emergency room. Nearly half of them learn they don’t have a heart problem. Of those, 30-40% discover that anxiety was the culprit.

In short, anxiety and chest pain share a close relationship, but that doesn’t mean you can assume anxiety is to blame. You can’t risk delaying medical attention when there’s a chance you have a heart condition or you’re having a heart attack.

If you suspect you’re having a heart attack, call 911. Otherwise, Laura Fernandes, MD, FACC, at Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute can run diagnostics in the office to rapidly determine if you have cardiovascular disease.

Learn how anxiety causes chest pain and if it’s possible to tell the difference between anxiety and heart-related symptoms.

Anxiety defined

Anxiety is your body’s natural reaction to a threat, whether the threat is immediate or in the future. Any time you feel anxious, your brain automatically sends out hormones that activate the fight-or-flight response. 

Whether you’re stuck in traffic, worried about a job interview, or face a threatening situation, your brain’s natural reaction energizes your body so you can deal with the threat or quickly react and escape the situation.

How anxiety causes chest pain

When you’re anxious, your brain sends a surge of adrenaline and cortisol through your body. These hormones immediately trigger a rapid rise in your heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, many people experience chest pain and sweating, or have a hard time breathing.

The sudden boost of adrenaline can narrow the arteries in your heart and attach to cells inside the heart. This condition, called stress cardiomyopathy, mimics a heart attack, from symptoms all the way down to changes in your heart’s electrical activity.  

Though stress cardiomyopathy usually heals within a few days or weeks, it may lead to weak heart muscles, congestive heart failure, and abnormal heart rhythms.

Levels of adrenaline and cortisol don’t return to normal in people with anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Chronically high hormone levels may trigger a panic attack (causing symptoms that feel like a heart attack) and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms of anxiety vs. cardiac chest pain

It’s hard, if not impossible, to tell the difference between anxiety-induced chest pain and the pain caused by an underlying heart condition. In addition to your chest pain, both can cause:

  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling of dread or being out of control

Everyone experiences slightly different symptoms, whether they have anxiety or a heart problem. For this reason, the following two qualities aren’t written in stone. However, they’re generally true and may help you determine the cause of your chest pain:

Pain location

Chest pain from a heart attack often spreads throughout your chest and radiates to your jaw, shoulders, and arms. By comparison, chest pain from anxiety stays in your chest.

Pain patterns

Chest pain from a heart attack starts slowly and gradually gets worse, while an anxiety attack causes sudden chest pain that slowly improves. Many people find that anxiety-related chest pain goes away in about 10 minutes. However, other anxiety-related symptoms can last up to an hour after the pain improves.

If you have any questions about chest pain or other heart-related symptoms, call our office in The Woodlands, Texas,or schedule an appointment online today.

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What It Feels Like, Causes, and Remedies

Feeling worried, fearful, or nervous from time to time is quite normal for most people. These are typical reactions to atypical moments in everyday life.

Some people experience anxiety frequently. Symptoms can move beyond feelings of concern or worry to other physical reactions. Occasionally, these symptoms are mistakenly associated with other conditions.

As an example, chest pain is sometimes a symptom of anxiety. Often the result of a panic attack or heightened reaction, chest pain is a concern because of the possible connection to heart attacks and other heart conditions.

If you experience frequent anxiety, learning to understand your chest pain can help you find symptom relief and identify when you need additional medical help.

Anxiety symptoms are rarely the same from person to person. Some days, symptoms aren’t even the same for the same person. Anxiety presents itself in a variety of ways, and that makes detecting or understanding symptoms difficult.

Chest pain associated with anxiety feels different for each person. Some people may experience chest pain on a gradual basis. For others, the pain may be sudden and unexpected. Anxiety chest pain can be described as:

  • sharp, shooting pain
  • persistent chest aching
  • an unusual muscle twitch or spasm in your chest
  • burning, numbness, or a dull ache
  • stabbing pressure
  • chest tension or tightness

If you don’t have a history of chest pain with anxiety, you may be alarmed. Many people assume they’re having a heart attack and go to the hospital’s emergency department for treatment.

An estimated 25 to 50 percent of patients who come to the emergency department with low risk chest pain (chest pain not related to a heart attack) experience moderate to severe anxiety, according to 2018 research.

If you visit a hospital emergency room and the doctors don’t find a specific cause for your chest pain, consider consulting with your doctor about other possible causes, including anxiety.

Chest pain is a concerning symptom, and it’s usually best to seek emergency medical attention if you’re experiencing it. Even if the chest pain cause is anxiety, it’s better to know than to risk missing valuable time if you’re having a heart attack.

People describe chest pain in a number of ways when they’re having a heart attack. Some examples include:

  • chest pain that radiates to other parts of your body, such as down your arms or up to your jaw
  • chest pain that worsens with exertion
  • nausea along with chest pain
  • pressure in the chest, as if someone has put something heavy on your chest
  • rapid heart rate
  • shortness of breath
  • squeezing sensation in the chest

An estimated 30 percent of patients who are having a heart attack don’t have chest pain, according to 2020 research. Some people report symptoms like back pain and fatigue as part of their heart attack symptoms.

While doctors know there is a connection between anxiety and chest pain, you still shouldn’t ignore your symptoms and seek medical attention.

Call your local emergency services if you’re having chest pain. Don’t attempt to drive yourself to the hospital. Emergency personnel can evaluate you and determine whether you’re having a cardiac event or if there’s another reason for your chest pain.

When you’re anxious, your body can and often does produce physical reactions like sweating or shortness of breath.

When you become anxious, your brain and body set off an immediate stress response. This includes a physiological change. Your body may tighten up or grow tense.

A stress response can also include a psychological or emotional response. You may become aggressive or upset more easily. These responses are referred to as the fight-or-flight response. When you become stressed or anxious, your body prepares to fight back or run away.

If you experience this fight-or-flight stress reaction infrequently, your body should fully recover within 30 minutes. But if you experience it frequently, your body can’t recover as quickly. This can lead to increased muscle tension, and this tension may become painful in your chest.

Likewise, in an even more stressful moment, your heart rate may increase, and the force of your heartbeats can grow stronger. That combined with tight chest muscles can make you feel unusual pain.

If you feel anxious, there are some simple techniques you can try. These techniques may not work every time, but they’re a great starting point when you need help managing your anxiety.

Practice deep breathing

Focused, deep breaths can calm both your mind and your body. Find a quiet room or area, and inhale for a count of 10. Hold for a second, and then exhale for a count of 10. Repeat this several times as you feel your heart rate fall.

Take stock of the situation

Accept your feelings of anxiety, recognize them, and then work through putting them in perspective.

Are you worried about something you can’t control? Are you fearful of an outcome that’s unlikely? Are you dreading a situation you can’t control the outcome of? Talk your way through your feelings to find the source, and then work to put them into perspective.

Picture a beautiful scene

If you’re feeling anxious, try visualizing a place that instantly calms you. This can be especially helpful if you’re feeling anxious while in a situation you can’t avoid, like a stressful meeting. Practice deep breathing while you envision this location.

Use a relaxation app

Smartphone apps for anxiety can walk you through stress reduction techniques and exercises. There are also meditation apps that may help you quiet your mind when you’re feeling anxious. Many of these apps are free, so you can try out several to find one that works for you.

Be proactive about your physical health

Are you taking good care of your body? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating well? Taking good care of your body is also taking good care of your mind. While this won’t help treat anxiety chest pain, it may help you reduce your risk for anxiety and subsequent chest pain in the future.

If your anxiety and chest pain are severe or chronic, you may need to consult with a therapist. They can talk you through situations that cause anxiety and share coping techniques.

These techniques may not come naturally to you if you’re often anxious. This is where a healthcare professional can help.

A therapist or doctor may be able to teach you coping techniques that help you feel in control and secure. When you begin to regain a sense of calm, your symptoms, including chest pain, will subside.

If coaching techniques or mental exercises aren’t successful, you may need to consider a prescription. Anti-anxiety medications have side effects and risks. But using them as a stopgap while you learn how to cope with symptoms can be helpful.

Chest pain shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re experiencing it, seek medical attention to rule out a heart condition. If your chest pain is found to be related to anxiety, then you can work with a therapist or doctor to learn coping techniques or determine the best treatment for you.

Identifying anxiety as the cause of your chest pain is an important step in treating your condition. As you learn to manage the side effects of anxiety, you’ll also learn to manage unintended complications like chest pain.

While you can’t know for sure if or when you’ll experience anxiety chest pain again, preparing yourself with coping techniques and practices will help you feel more prepared and in control.

Read this article in Spanish.

Stress factors as a cause of mastopathy

Our ancient ancestors - wild animals - were forced to lead an active lifestyle: to hunt for prey, to escape from enemies. Such actions require the body to mobilize all resources: if you don’t catch up with the prey, you will die of hunger, if you don’t run away from the predator, you will be eaten. Therefore, organs that do not participate in active movements - the intestines, liver, kidneys, and, of course, the mammary glands - receive less blood for the duration of active actions: less oxygen, less nutrients, in order to give as many resources as possible to working muscles.

Times have changed, and threats to well-being have also changed: a wild animal or natural disasters become less and less a danger signal, and more and more often waiting for an exam, relationships with superiors and colleagues at work, an economic crisis in a country, family relationships ... An organism, trained by millions of years of evolution to need to run fast after danger, goes into a state of stress - a state of readiness for maximum physical activity: reserves of glucose and insulin are released into the blood, breathing and heartbeats accelerate, blood pressure rises, the vessels of the intestines and other "minor" » organs - all so that more blood, rich in glucose and oxygen, can be delivered to working muscles.

Along with other “minor” organs for survival, under stress, the mammary gland begins to receive less blood, and therefore less oxygen. Meanwhile, like all glands, the mammary gland is very sensitive to oxygen deficiency. With prolonged stress, oxygen starvation of glandular cells increases, and over time, these cells begin to be replaced by fibrous cells, which tolerate oxygen deficiency much better, but . .. are not able to produce milk, and, worse, a dense structure. Dense fibrous formations, which look like “strands” on ultrasound, deform and compress the glandular lobules: this is called diffuse fibrous mastopathy.

Thinking about yourself, learning to cope with stress is necessary for every modern person, especially residents of big cities. Diffuse fibrous mastopathy, especially if this disease occurs in young nulliparous women, is another “bell” about trouble, another warning about the need to change your lifestyle, learn to manage your emotions.

Approximately 15% of cases are preceded by severe stress. These psycho-traumatic moments ultimately lead to exhaustion of the nervous system and depression (especially during periods of solar famine), and depression is also one of the starting points of dyshormonal disorders and, therefore, also the cause of the development of mastopathy.

Thus, early manifestations of mastopathy:

  • pain in the mammary glands accompanying the second half of the menstrual cycle, with the transition to the period of menstruation;
  • feeling of heaviness and discomfort in the mammary glands;
  • engorgement and enlargement of the mammary glands, especially before the onset of menstruation;
  • irritability, anxiety, depression.

Meanwhile, the world of cause and effect is an amazing world full of surprises. For example, it turns out that mastopathy can be associated with sex. The bonds of sex and mastopathy are not an invention of indefatigable newspapermen, because the work of many domestic and foreign scientists has proved that with a harmonious sexual life, the risk of developing mastopathy is significantly reduced, and in the absence of it, it rises sharply. This is explained simply: sex, which brings pleasure, normalizes hormonal metabolism, and, moreover, “makes happy” in the truest sense of the word, since an orgasm is accompanied by a powerful release of endorphins, hormones of happiness. Poor quality sex and sexual dissatisfaction are stressful, and not weak. And the stress reaction, including on erotic grounds, mobilizes an army of other hormones, stress hormones, which are the “number one enemy” that provokes the development of mastopathy. Stress is one of the four factors that impair the health of the female breast. The other three are diseases of the liver, thyroid gland, and pelvic organs (uterus, ovaries).

First of all, the stress reaction in bed is due, of course, to well-founded dissatisfaction with the fact that the logical outcome has not yet come. Plus, just as legitimate indignation at the clumsy partner, both swallowed and voiced. But not only. Let women rarely think about it, but the fact remains: sex directly affects their self-esteem. The quality of sex is a kind of assessment of female sexual significance, it is a score that a man gives them for how they present themselves sexually. And such is the nature of women that, in the end, they tend to take the blame for problems in bed on themselves, tend to perceive them as their own inferiority. And in vain, because by doing so they harm themselves. If missteps in the bedroom occur with enviable regularity, a powerful stress syndrome develops, which leads to increased production of stress hormones. Their effect on the female breast can be briefly represented as follows: when there are a lot of stress hormones, they disrupt the ratio of the main hormones that affect the mammary gland. Estrogens begin to predominate over progesterone. The reaction of the body to this roll is peculiar: in order to somehow maintain balance, glandular tissue is urgently produced in the chest.

As you know, any emergency production does not shine with quality. As a result, the pressure increases, the breast swells, seals or nodular formations appear in it. Here is mastopathy for you.

In general, the conclusion suggests itself: all diseases are from nerves. Mastopathy is often generally referred to as a "hysterical tumor". It is traditionally believed that mastopathy, like cellulite, is an exclusively female disease. It turns out that this is not so. In the United States, for example, about a thousand men a year are diagnosed with mastopathy. But there are no convincing data on the relationship between male mastopathy and sex.

Of course, iron ladies — with iron nerves and iron health — exist in nature, but there are so few of them that they are listed in the red book of human beings. Most of the women are far from superwomen, capable of, as they say, "chew and spit out", but you can approach them by taking yourself into an iron fist and giving yourself an iron word to take care of yourself in a timely manner and in full. And this means complex, because treating one thing is the same as filling a hole in a dam that will break anyway.

Who is more likely to develop mastopathy?

Environmental and lifestyle factors. Mastopathy often develops in urban women, women with higher education, intellectual workers, women whose work is associated with nervous overload.

The risk of developing mastopathy increases with chronic sleep deprivation, with such nutritional patterns as excessive consumption of fats, calories, animal proteins, insufficient consumption of vegetables and fruits, dietary fiber.

So, more likely to get sick if a woman:

  • has not given birth or has one child;
  • has a burdened heredity;
  • did not breastfeed or did not breastfeed for a short time;
  • had many abortions;
  • does not have a regular sexual life;
  • stressed;
  • lives in a poor ecological environment;
  • suffers from obesity, diabetes, diseases of the appendages, thyroid gland, liver;
  • drinks alcohol, smokes;
  • suffered even minor chest injuries.

It is, alas, impossible to get rid of mastopathy once and for all, but it is possible to maintain it in an acceptable form. Prevention or treatment of mastopathy, in addition to local remedies and procedures prescribed by a doctor, will require the most serious attention to:

  • other foci of inflammation in the body;
  • "nerves" and their psychological state;
  • the quality of sex.

If what a woman is currently experiencing in bed for some reason does not suit her, the situation needs to be changed radically, and immediately. Here, as you might guess, there can be no template solutions.

Factors that reduce depression (M. Argyle, 1990)

  • Laughter.
  • Relaxation.
  • Thinking about something good that might happen in the future.
  • Watching a beautiful landscape.
  • Ability to breathe fresh air.
  • Being in a state of peace and tranquility.
  • The possibility of sunbathing.
  • The feeling of clean clothes.
  • Availability of free time.
  • Good sleep at night.
  • Listen to your favorite music.
  • Smile.
  • Conviction in the well-being of family, children, friends.
  • Feeling the presence of God in life.
  • Watching wild animals or being around pets.

How to achieve happiness? (James Montier, Makarov V.V., 2013)

  • Rejoice in all your achievements, both planned and unexpected.
  • Realize your full potential.
  • Often answer yourself the question: what do I want in life?
  • Constantly expand the space of happiness and love in your life (family, children, animals, plants, cottage, etc.).
  • Spending more time in direct contact with loved ones.
  • See new opportunities in failures.
  • Do what you love, stimulating development.
  • Be open and allow intimacy towards yourself and other people.
  • Use positive reflection and avoid negative reflection.
  • Sleep as much as your body needs.
  • Allow yourself to eat tasty food from time to time.
  • Regular exercise helps conserve energy.
  • Have sex, preferably with those you love.

You need to remember all these rules and follow them!

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What to do if anxiety and chest pain haunt you?

With age comes an understanding of what is important in life, and many routine problems and troubles fade into the background, our priorities and values ​​change - what used to make us nervous and worried no longer seems so significant. We begin to appreciate more the moments that we were lucky to spend with our family, the long-awaited trips to nature and nice friendly gatherings. But we suddenly realize that even such pleasant experiences as the joy that the news of the birth of a grandson or the long-awaited news about the successful passing of exams by the youngest son can bring our body out of balance and even cause chest pain, as well as general malaise. It's all because of strong emotions, which even with a plus sign can lead to violations in the coordinated work of some body systems. How to help the body when the heart and pressing pain in the chest are worried? With age, almost each of us acquires a first-aid kit of “our own” medicines, which are designed to help out in difficult emergency situations when there is no time or opportunity to seek professional medical help. Of course, it is important that, if necessary, in such a first-aid kit there is a remedy that can help to cope with a sudden influx of emotions, pressing pain in the chest and normalize the state of the body. In this context, the topical emergency drug is CORMENTOL. It is convenient to use, has a favorable safety profile, and its effect appears within a few minutes after administration.

The world is beautiful and full of surprises, but our body is arranged in such a way that even pleasant surprises make it group up and be ready for anything. Therefore, joyful events can become stressful for us, which in moderation is even useful, because it allows our body to train and thus prepare for more difficult trials. The reaction to stress is individual for each person, it depends on various factors - gender, age, personality type and other features.

With age, malfunctions begin to appear in the work of many body systems, we are no longer the same as before, what was once given with ease, now requires great effort. As we age, our ability to deal with stressors may decrease. In this case, a person is faced with various manifestations of maladaptation. People around us begin to notice our nervousness, fussiness, absent-mindedness, and sometimes irritability. And the dream is no longer the same as it once was. And in moments of a surge of emotions, tachycardia (increased heartbeat), dizziness, dry mouth, headache, etc. begin to disturb.

How to stay calm? Some try to avoid stressful situations, but, unfortunately, this is not always possible, others try to benefit from a difficult stressful situation, others try to cope with the influx of emotions. Today, you can easily find a lot of advice on how to help the body overcome anxiety. Here are just a few of them:

Take a walk - in the office you can go to the cooler for water. You just need to get up from your chair and walk for a couple of minutes at a fast pace.

Watch your breathing: You can learn some yoga techniques to help you achieve calm and even breathing.

Talk to some pleasant and positive person about topics that have nothing to do with the cause of your excitement.

Unfortunately, working on yourself does not always bring the desired results, especially if you find yourself in the grip of strong emotions (and absolutely unexpectedly). You continue to be bothered by a rapid heartbeat, pressing pain in the chest, general malaise, and the excitement does not want to recede. In this case, various emergency measures will be relevant, including drugs indicated for mild angina attacks, neurosis, such as CORMENTOL. In addition, the drug will be useful as an antiemetic for sea and air sickness, headache associated with the use of nitrates.

The active substance of CORMENTOL is menthol dissolved in isovaleric acid methyl ester. These active ingredients are known to many as the main constituents of peppermint essential oil. Mint has been widely used in traditional medicine since ancient times and is still popular today. It was used for increased heart rate, abdominal pain, headache. However, science does not stand still and today, thanks to its achievements, we have the opportunity to use active ingredients that were previously available only as part of infusions, decoctions, extracts, separately as medicines that have a calming, antispasmodic, antiemetic, anti-inflammatory and other effects. So, menthol in the composition of CORMENTOL has a stimulating property in relation to the respiratory center, suppresses the gag reflex. It is used as part of the complex therapy of migraine, neuralgia and other neurological diseases. Isovaleric acid esters have a calming effect.

It should be noted that CORMENTOL has a moderate vasodilating effect due to reflex stimulation of sensitive nerve (cold) receptors of the oral mucosa. Stimulation of the receptors is accompanied by the induction of the release of endorphins, enkephalins, dynorphins and other opioid peptides, which play an important role in reducing the severity of pain, normalizing vascular permeability and regulating other important mechanisms of the functioning of the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Due to the fact that this drug is taken sublingually, the therapeutic effect occurs after about 5 minutes. In addition, since CORMENTOL is available in the form of soft gelatin capsules, it is very convenient to use. Indeed, unlike drops, there is no need to take care of the presence of water - just put the capsule under the tongue, which is especially important in stressful situations.

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