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Stress You Can’t Feel Can Cause Heart Attacks

separator You’ve heard people say, “My stress level went through the roof, I was so mad!” But people can’t always tell when they’re having a reaction to stress, according to a recent study. It shows that some people’s bodies react to a stressor, and blood pressure goes quite high, but they themselves have no change in pulse and report they’re feeling just fine.

In the study, participants whose blood pressure rose during a mental stress test were six times more likely to suffer a heart attack or other serious cardiac event than people who responded to mental stress more calmly. Other risk factors, such as smoking, having diabetes or having high cholesterol were not as serious as the reaction to the stressor.

Researchers believe that a hormone related to adrenaline cased the blood pressure to rise so dramatically. The study actually may raise more questions than answers, such as how you can learn to manage a stress that you don’t even know you’re feeling. But it also points out the importance of getting checked for high blood pressure and for heart disease, because the truth is that how you’re feeling doesn’t always predict your heart health status.

Report from American Heart Association Meeting, Orlando, Florida, November 2003.
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