How Does Stress Affect The Circulatory System

The circulatory system comprises the heart, lungs, arteries, capillaries and veins.These are some major organs that have a host of responsibilities for keeping the body alive. In terms of the circulation, these organs move oxgenated blood throughout the body and return deoxygenated blood to the heart. Oxgenated blood keeps all the other organs and the body as a whole functioning normally.If the circulation is affected this knocks on to the other organs like the kidneys, liver, brain and others. The circulation, as the name suggests, keeps the body ticking over.

Cardiovascular disease is the general term for diseases of the circulatory system, commonly the heart, arteries and veins.

It is well documented that stress has a substantial affect on the heart. Some of this stress can be good for the heart. Physical exercise, like going to the gym or playing squash, can put the heart under a degree of stress that is, generally agreed, to be beneficial provided the heart is not already suffering from any disease.

The bodys’ way of dealing with a stressful situation is to prepare the body, including the cardiovascular system, to deal with this situation. Adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol and cortisone are increased and passed throughout the body via the blood. This gives the body a sudden boost of energy that can be used to fight or flee from the perceived stressful situation. This will cause the heart pressure to go up. In most cases this is necessary but if this stress is prolonged or chronic then the heart is forced to work harder for longer. This can seriously affect the heart. Long term high blood pressure can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

It is also believed that the stress hormones make blood thicker and stickier in preparation for any potential wound or injury. The thicker blood can clot easier and thus stop blood flowing out of the body through the wound. In chronic stress that does not result in a cut or wound this could cause blood clots to form within the bloodstream and impact blood getting to and from the heart which leads to strokes.

Thicker blood also makes the circulation of blood to the extremities of the body harder thus hands and feet could be more susceptible to cuts and bruising and take longer to heal if stress is prolonged.

These are just a few of the areas were stress can impact the circulatory system. Blood keeps all the organs of the body alive thus there is many more illnesses that could be attributed to poor circulation in some way. In most cases the circulatory system is robust and can work effectively in varying extremes. Chronic stress pushes the circulatory system above these tolerances and changes how it operates. This has health consequences unless a strategy is implemented to manage the stress.

How Does Stress Affect The Circulatory System by Adrian Whittle

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