Stress and Heart Health -- They Could Be Related Thursday February 6, 2014 Heart disease is the leading killer of Americans and stress could play a factor. Although more research is needed, stress may accelerate factors that have been prove to increase the risk of heart disease, including cholesterol levels, overeating, smoking, physical inactivity and high blood pressure. When you’re stressed you may have noticed a lack of energy, trouble sleeping, forgetfulness and feeling of being out of control. This is because stress causes your body to release adrenaline, causing your heart rate and breathing to accelerate and your blood pressure to rise. And, when the stress remains a constant in your life, your body too remains in high gear on and off. In addition, those who are dealing with stress often find comfort in activities which put even more strain on their heart, from eating excessively and smoking to working overtime and getting inadequate sleep. While not proven, managing your stress could improve your health and potentially decrease your risk for heart disease. And, much like the recommendations for improving your heart health, decreasing your stress level is the same. To do so, exercise, keep a positive attitude, don’t smoke and maintain a healthy diet and weight. If keeping your stress level at a healthy limit could improve your heart health, why wouldn’t you do it?