Swedish News Blog

When stress takes a toll on your heart

Paul Huang, MD

Paul Huang, MD
Interventional Cardiologist & Medical Director, Swedish Heart & Vascular

When you face danger, your body’s built-in alarm system triggers the production of adrenalin and cortisol. Adrenalin makes your heart beat faster and cortisol produces sugar to help you physically and mentally react. Your body returns to normal when the danger is over.

Unlike cavemen, barbarians and knights, we don’t face extreme danger very often. Unfortunately, every-day stress also triggers your alarm system.

Work. Commute. Kids. Relatives. Friends. Death of a loved one. Money. Everything in life can cause stress.

Stress takes a toll on your body — including your heart. Because stress can linger, your body continues to produce extra adrenalin and cortisol.

When your body’s alarm system doesn’t turn off, you may eat more, exercise less, lose sleep, argue more, forget things, get depressed, or smoke or drink more than usual. These things put an added burden on your heart and increase your risk of heart disease. Recent studies have shown that laughter and positive thinking promote heart health, while anger and job stress can increase the risk of heart attacks.

Here are some tips to protect your heart from stress:

Are you at risk for heart disease?

Nimish Muni, MD

Nimish Muni, MD
Cardiologist

About half of all Americans have at least one of the three main risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Other risk factors include diabetes, overweight/obesity, poor diet, inactivity, alcohol use and family history.

More people die from heart disease than any other medical condition. Controlling these risk factors is the most effective method of prevention.

What is your risk for heart disease? Find out by taking a free online Heart Risk Test.

If you need care, we have a team of cardiologists who can evaluate your risk, show you how to reduce that risk, and help you take the first steps to a healthy future.

Five tips for finding a cardiologist:

  1. Convenience. Care close to home or work makes life easier. Swedish has more than 35 cardiologists in 20 locations throughout the Greater Puget Sound area.

  2. Credentials. Cardiologists at Swedish are board certified by their national professional organizations.

  3. Quality. The American College of Cardiology has recognized Swedish cardiologists for being leaders in safe, high-quality care that reduces the risk of death among heart patients. Find out more about our quality outcomes.

  4. Reputation ...

Carotid Stenosis: What you need to know

Dean Hamilton, ARNP

Dean Hamilton, ARNP
ARNP, Swedish Cerebrovascular Center

Carotid stenosis is a build of up plaque in the large arteries that supply the brain with blood. This buildup of plaque increases the risk of transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke. Risk factors for carotid artery stenosis include hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity, and tobacco use. Symptoms of carotid artery stenosis include facial droop, weakness or numbness on one side of the face and body, slurred speech, garbled speech, gait instability, dizziness, and visual disturbances including blurred vision, loss of vision and double vision.

Carotid artery stenosis can be diagnosed with several diagnostic studies including carotid ultrasound, MR angiography (MRA), CT angiography (CTA), and cerebral angiogram.

Treatment options for carotid artery stenosis vary depending upon the severity of stenosis, history of TIA or stroke, and...

Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Patient Featured in Fortune Magazine Article on Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Swedish News

Fortune-Robotic-Surgery.jpg

SEATTLE, Jan. 22, 2013 - Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute cardiothoracic surgeon Eric Lehr, M.D., and one of his patients were interviewed for an article on robotic-assisted surgery that appears in the Feb. 11 issue of Fortune magazine.

Dodging A Bullet (Spike's Ordeal)

Dana Lewis

Dana Lewis
Digital Media & Internal Communications | Swedish Blog Administrator

This post is reposted with permission from Spike O’Neill – see his original post here.

Some of you may have heard of my recent health scare. For those of you who heard and sent along your well wishes, I thank you. For anyone who hasn't, please allow me to share a scary story of ignorance and arrogance that almost cost me big time.

About a month ago, I was carrying my 8 year old daughter on my shoulders. We were leaving a family outing and she was griping about being tired. I didn't have to carry her very far, but when I put her down I noticed a weird ache in my jaw and in both arms, as well as a dull thick ache and a kind of puffiness in my hands. It went away pretty quickly and I blew it off as a pinched nerve or something. But when I felt the same thing a week later after lifting a few boxes in my garage I was a bit more concerned.

I tried again to dismiss the incident, but I have to give it up for my family, who INSISTED that I go see my family doctor just to be sure. I saw my Doc, who had just given me a complete physical a couple months ago, He checked me over, gave me an EKG and suggested a stress test just to be sure. I figured what the hell? Better to be safe than sorry right?

I had no idea how good that advice really was.

I took my stress test 4 days later at Swedish Hospital's Cherry Hill facility. A stress test is just you on a treadmill, wired to a bunch of stuff that measures heart function, pulse and blood pressure. Well, the normal EKG they gave me before the test started went completely sideways a few minutes later when they fired up the speed and incline of the treadmill. That's when they brought in Dr. Peter Demopulos, cardiologist.

Dr. Demopulos said that...

Exercising in the heat

Paul Huang, MD

Paul Huang, MD
Interventional Cardiologist & Medical Director, Swedish Heart & Vascular

Even though regular exercise is important for cardiovascular health, exercising in hot weather can lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. These conditions result from the production of excess body heat, overwhelming the body’s capacity for heat release and raising the core body temperature.

What you should know:

The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • heavy sweating
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • pale and clammy skin
  • thirst
  • increased heart rate
  • dizziness or fainting
  • nausea and vomiting
  • muscle and abdominal cramps
  • elevated temperature.

What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke occurs when the core body temperature exceeds 104 degrees F, accompanied by seizure or coma. The primary cause of heat exhaustion and stroke is dehydration with inadequate fluid and electrolyte repletion. Those with the following risk factors are particularly prone to heat exhaustion and stroke: extreme young or old, pregnancy, chronic illness (in particular cardiac or respiratory diseases), alcohol consumption, extreme physical exertion, and certain medications.

So how do I exercise in the heat?

Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute Electrophysiologist Interviewed for KING 5 TV Story on LifeVest

Swedish News

SEATTLE, March 30, 2012 - Seattle NBC affiliate KING Television (Channel 5) aired a story during their 5 p.m. PT newscast tonight about a relatively new, FDA-approved medical device called LifeVest ®. The wearable defibrillator is a treatment option for sudden cardiac arrest that offers patients advanced protection and monitoring as well as improved quality of life.

LifeVest is the first wearable defibrillator. Unlike an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), the LifeVest is worn outside the body rather than implanted in the chest. This device continuously monitors the patient's heart with dry, non-adhesive sensing electrodes to detect life-threatening abnormal heart rhythms. If a life-threatening rhythm is detected, the device alerts the patient prior to delivering a treatment shock, and thus allows a conscious patient to delay the treatment shock. If the patient becomes unconscious, the device releases a Blue™ gel over the therapy electrodes and delivers an electrical shock to restore normal rhythm.

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