Stress : Can stress cause a heart... - British Heart Fou...

British Heart Foundation

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Can stress cause a heart attack?

I had a heart attack over twelve months ago. Symptoms were: I had taken a bite out of an apple and I thought I had got it stuck as the pain was in the middle of my chest!

anyhow rushed into hospital and given drugs etc and a week later while still in I had an angiogram where your heart is on the tv monitor and they put my heart under stress with a drug to make it beat faster. He said all was fine just usual firing for my age (51)

I was told that my heart would have suffered some damage however on the echo sounder results no damage was found. So my specialist said I was lucky and he was putting the care back to my GP

I still take statins and Ramipril and Asprin and Bisoprolol. I was taking 2.5mg of Ramipril and 2.5mg Bisoprolol. But I was going dizzy and my blood pressure was low. So the dr has changed my tablets to 1.25mg for Ramipril and Bisoprolol.

Now my blood pressure is great around 120/80 give or take.

My weight is around 12 stone and I am 5'5" in height.

Prior to my heart attack, my wife was diagnosed with cancer so I really went all out with superfoods etc. cacao, berries, pumpkin, seeds you name it, I blended the lot in a Nutra-bullet even took spirulina. and followed the paleo diet. This was for a good 2 years before my heart attack.

So you can imagine I was really upset following this type of lifestyle and still had a heart attack.

I am one who wants to stay healthy and eat healthily. So I am really dismayed.

The dr or should I say the specialist said It could have been a blood clot that had been dissolved now.

10 Replies


Am I correct in understanding that you had a positive troponin test but the angiogram showed that your arteries are clear?

Stress as such is not a direct cause of a heart attack: what causes a heart attack is an event in your cardiovascular system that disrupts the blood supply to your heart. Usually, the disruption is caused by a blocked artery but I infer that no blockage was found.

I am not an expert but I do know that one possible cause of a temporary disruption is a spasm in a coronary artery.

I am sorry to say this, but the best thing you can do for yourself may be to reduce your weight. I am 5'8" and, with the encouragement of a doctor, have started dieting: so far I have reduced my weight from a bit under 13 stone to a bit under 12 stone and, on the NHS BMI calculator, am just at the top edge of the green zone. I plan to get down to 10 or 10.5 stone. Weight loss would be good for your blood vessels - see:

And, of course, exercise would definitely be very good, if you aren't getting any.

A statin should also improve the functioning of your blood vessels: are you on one? If not, talk to your GP.

Statistically, a moderate amount of alcohol would reduce your risk of death from heart disease and, indeed, reduce your overall risk of a fatal event, though it would increase your risk of stroke and cancer. A high concentration of alcohol would be harmful, of course.

I consume plenty of extra virgin olive oil, as it is said to be healthy. Also nuts seem beneficial and perhaps fish: I make a point of eating oily fish every week.

Kind regards


Thanks Jonathan. I do eat oily fish every week along with various nuts etc. However, I'm not a drinker and really don't drink alcohol. But I could have a glass of red win every night?

My real concern is nothing has been found?

So I must do whatever is needed.

I will certainly check the link out and I must get more exorcise. At the weekend. Currently on a gas course 2 nights a week so don't get in till late.

Thanks for your reply it is really appreciated

DD13 in reply to Tom-Brown1111

Hi Tom,

If you look at the Booklets on the site, there is one on Stress. Also if you look on the NHS site you can print off some easy to do exercises. Don't be offended, as they come under the heading Exercises for older people. You will find, Balance Exercises, Flexibility Exercises, Sitting Exercises and Strength Exercises. My GP mentioned these to me as I have balance issues, to do with my mixed loss hearing. These might be worth you having a go at, rather than rush into anything to strenuous like I did with my exercise bike, which I think has been the cause as to why I passed out at work back in February. I did not know then I have a problem with my heart. Even though I had been complaining about breathlessness and my lungs hurting my chest for over 10 years.

Regards Dee.

Tom-Brown1111 in reply to DD13

Never would I be offended Dee,

Little exercise is a good start. I was also looking into yoga as I feel the mind as well as stretching exercises.

My biggest problem is I'm up at 5am and don't get home until 7:30pm

And Tues Thur it's 10pm

I will certainly take look thanks and take care

Hi Tom,

I am glad that quite a few people have offered you lots of good advice. Please don't get hung up on the alcohol thing: the difference for you may not be huge and other things like exercise and weight loss would help more. I was distressed to read of your over-busy work life, and I do hope that you succeed in moving to a lifestyle which allows you to take better care of yourself.

On reading about your long days, something else occurs to me: sleep. A few months ago, I read an excellent book called "Why we sleep" which explains why lack of sleep or poor quality sleep is damaging to all aspects of health and performance of mind and body, including cardiovascular health. Aren't you getting home too late and getting up too early to have decent sleep? I know that it's really, really tough to find away of achieving a better lifestyle, and I feel for you because I think you are in this really tough place.

I wouldn't worry that the cause of your heart attack wasn't found, since it would have been much worse if the cause had been found to be blocked arteries requiring a triple bypass. And worrying about things that you can't do anything about isn't a good use of worry! Whatever caused your heart attack, I think it will have involved blood vessels that aren't as healthy as would be ideal, and all the things that have been mentioned here will help: exercise, weight loss, reduced stress, a statin, and good sleep.

Kind regards


Thanks Jonathan,

You're right.

In a nutshell I am working towards a better life all being well.

I have always been one for learning and I have a graduation ceremony in November.

The course I'm on in an evening Tue Thursday is my Gas course.

The plan is next year to set up my own business where I can take things at my own pace being a gas engineer.

Makeral for lunch tomorrow! Followed by fruit.

Late day though but it will be straight to bed.

Totally agree on the sleep needed.

All the very best.


Stress is certainly a contributor to many forms of ill health including heart problems.

The mental processes associated with stress control hormones released into the body, i.e. adrenaline etc.

If you suffer chronic stress this will definitely have a detrimental effect on your long term health contributing to anxiety, depression, sleep, digestive and mental problems, all which directly or indirectly affect the heart.

There are many techniques for controlling stress and it is important to find something which works for you, sometimes a holiday is enough, yoga works for many, but don't underestimate how important a positive and optimistic attitude to life is to your health.

Glass should always be half full !

That is true. Prior to my heart attack I had an enormous amount of stress.

Getting called into work at all hours including weekends and even on holiday it never left me... I suppose it caught me up.

Now I know how precious life is and how important it is to take time out and take things easy.

Best regards

I was under an enormous amount of stress when I had my heart attack 4 years ago otherwise very healthy( I thought ) slim and active.

Hi Tom, I have what took ages to be diagnosed "Microvascular Angina" (previously known as Cardiac Syndrome X). I take Bisoprolol at 1.25mg twice a day. I also take a lot of other medication, and it all makes me feel very tired, most of the time. But my medication helps to reduce the incidence of pain episodes, and severity of the pains when I have them. Do look into Microvascular Angina - there's lots of information available about this condition now, including on the BHF website and in publications of the "HeartMatters" Magazine. Wish you well

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