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The causes of cardiac disease are many. They can be genetic, environmental, or related to how a person handles their emotional life, diet and lifestyle. Other disorders may exist that also affect the functioning of the heart. Warning signs of cardiac disease are different between men and women. In the past, women were diagnosed by the same symptoms a man would experience and women die from heart disease more frequently than men. For example, a woman presenting with pain in her shoulders may be misdiagnosed as suffering from bursitis when it actually is a heart attack.

The body often experiences emotions before the brain is consciously aware that the emotion may be generated by a disease of the body. While the normal heart rate is between 50 to 90 beats per minute, slower and more rapid rates may reflect non-cardiac conditions such as anxiety, thyroid problems, anemia and pulmonary disease. Many conditions can mask cardiac disease. Proper evaluation of your condition should be performed by medically trained personnel.

There are other factors that may place a person at risk for heart disease. These are chronic inflammation, hypertension (high blood pressure) high cholesterol, alcohol intake, insomnia, sleep apnea, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, diet and lack of exercise. Since some of these conditions can be controlled or prevented, it behooves a person to be informed as to the risks of each condition. Depression and anxiety are often the emotional consequences of being ill as experiencing a cardiac event is frightening. Many of our emotions are universally experienced and are related to a disease.

Anxiety symptoms can masquerade as a heart attack. A panic attack is an example of an intense rush of fear that often comes unexpectedly. If you are having symptoms of a panic attack, such as nausea, light headedness, a pounding heart, shortness of breath and perspiration, you must go to the emergency room, even if you believe you are having a panic attack. Age-related changes can affect the heart as changes in blood vessels and hormone levels often lead to hypertension. Lifestyle changes can be problematic and difficult to achieve causing frustration and depression. Be patient. Blood pressure medications can help avoid complications such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure and dementia.

Those who engage in regular exercise are 45 percent less likely to develop heart failure. Exercise protects your heart and even reverses, or minimizes, some conditions. However, this requires self-discipline and dedication.

In our modern world, stress impacts our overall physical and emotional health. Stress fosters depression which can also boost our risk for stroke. Studies have shown that prompt treatment of depression may reduce the risk for depression-associated physiological effects that increase risk for stroke, hypertension, increased inflammation and nervous system abnormalities. Learning to monitor your mood will help regulate the way you respond to stress.

There is an association between the brain and the body, as well as emotions and the body. Maintaining a positive mood is critical to overall mental and physical health. The heart is a muscle and just like the rest of our body, it requires exercise. Controlling your risk factors will lower your potential for heart disease and improve your overall mental health. Heart health and mental health go together. Turning painful events into learning experiences helps reduce your risk for heart disease because doing so reduces your risk of depression. These changes will boost your self-esteem and foster your sense of control and mastery of your own behavior.

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