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Stress is an unavoidable fact of life. Everyone, at every age, experiences stress. In the short term, stress is meant to alert you to danger and can actually keep you alert and safe. Where stress becomes dangerous to our health is when it is unmanaged.
Unmanaged or chronic stress takes a toll on your body, particularly your cardiovascular health. In fact, sudden emotional stress, especially anger, can trigger heart attacks, arrhythmias, and even sudden death, especially in people who already have heart disease.
Physical signs of stress include a fast, pounding heartbeat; difficulty breathing; sweating; muscle pain in neck, shoulders, back, jaw or face; headaches; sleep disruptions; upset stomach and weight gain or weight loss.
The good news is that studies have found that experiencing positive emotions like happiness, joy, contentment and enthusiasm may actually reduce your risk of heart disease.
Seek out ways to reduce your daily stress through exercise, hobbies, connections with friends and family, and avoiding unhealthy behaviors.
If you think you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease, take our online heart health assessment. Or to find a cardiology specialist near you, use our Find a Doctor tool.