Stress and Cardiovascular Functioning

Author: Davena Longshore

Published: April 4, 2024

What is stress and how does it impact the heart?

Stress can negatively impact the heart in several ways. When you experience stress, your body releases stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. This hormone increase can cause the heart to work harder than usual, putting additional strain on the cardiovascular system. It is vital to manage stress levels to protect your heart
health. Stress is a natural physical and mental reaction to life experiences. It is the body’s way of responding to any demand or threat. When you feel threatened or overwhelmed, your nervous system releases stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which prepare the body for emergencies. This is known as the “fight or flight” response. While stress is regular, excessive or prolonged stress can negatively affect your health and well-being. Over time, chronic stress can also increase the risk of developing heart disease by contributing to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and impact metabolic functioning.

Davena Longshore, CIHC, MIS, MS, Ph.D.

Dr. Davena Longshore is the director of research and development for the Cummings Foundation for Behavioral Health. She has master’s degrees in both psychology and computer information systems. Her most current research centers around the efficacy of wellness programs in law enforcement; however, her previous research was on the improvement of the intimate relationships of individuals with borderline personality disorder. Dr. Longshore is passionate about multiculturalism, community mental health, diversity, social justice and reform, inclusion, and identity development. She hopes to deconstruct and annihilate institutional and systemic barriers for individuals of diverse communities through research, psychotherapy, and advocating within government for the equitable distribution of resources. Dr. Longshore has over 20 years of experience in leadership, advocating for inmates, youth, the gender nonconforming, individuals from low SES backgrounds, and victims of intimate partner violence within the United States and the Bahamas.  She is a member of the American Psychological Association, the American Academy of Clinical Psychology, the Society for Criminal and Police Psychology, the Society for Prescribing Psychology, and the Society for Human Resource Management.

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