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How stress and anxiety affects the heart

How stress and anxiety affects the heart

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it can have negative impacts on both our physical and mental health. When it comes to heart health, stress is a major factor that can contribute to the development of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Nutritionist Isabelle Nunn (MPharm, Dip NT) discusses the ways in which stress impacts the body and the brain, as well as the link between anxiety and heart health.

The impact of stress on the body and brain

When we experience stress, our body's "fight or flight" response is triggered, which releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase our heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, preparing the body for action. While this response can be helpful, in extreme situations chronic stress can lead to long-term damage to the body and brain. Learn more in the latest research on the impacts of stress.

Stress can lead to inflammation of our body's cells, which can contribute to the development of a variety of health problems from poor gut health to depression

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The link between anxiety and heart health

Anxiety and a weak heart, or worse still heart failure, can often be mistaken for each other, as they can have similar symptoms, such as shortness of breath and chest pain. While anxiety itself does not cause heart failure, it puts a strain on the heart, causing blood vessels to constrict and your heart rate to race, which can trigger a heart attack. Learn more about the warning signs of a heart attack.

Lifestyle tips for managing stress naturally 

While we all find individual ways of managing our anxiety and stress levels, there are a number of well studied ways to reduce stress naturally, including:

  • exercise
  • meditation
  • connecting with nature
  • therapy
  • deep belly breathing

    According to Dr K.Rosa, regularly engaging in ‘deep belly breathing’ can help us convert a ‘fight or flight response’ into a relaxation response that is beneficial to our health.



    Top nutrition tips for managing stress naturally 

    Nutrition can greatly impact the way we respond to those anxious feelings and how we can better deal with stress, and reduce the burden on the heart. Our response to stress is as much about our gut health as it is our mental health, because the gut and brain are intrinsically connected. Learn more in 'Why your gut is your second brain'. 

    Some of the foods that are great for your heart health include:

      Outrageously good, heart healthy meals can also be found in our recipe section, such as...

      • Rainbow salad, packed with nutrients, including heart loving antioxidants, pomegranates and Omega 3 mighty pumpkin seeds.

        Heart health supplements

        Several botanicals and clinically studied nutrients have shown to support heart health, through the different pathways they work on.


        HeartPro® is a unique formula of clinically proven ingredients to lower cholesterol and support your heart health. With 10 clinically studied ingredients including 900mg of phytosterols, probiotics, ginger root, red yeast rice extract, black garlic, CoQ10, HeartPro® is a daily formula to lower and manage cholesterol, and protecting and supporting your heart health. Take control of your heart health and discover HeartPro® today.

        Ashwagandha KSM-66®

        Used for over centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha is a herb shown to induce a state of calm. Clinically proven to help manage feelings of anxiety, the form of Ashwagandha called Ashwagandha KSM-66® has been shown to help lower and balance cortisol levels. This in turns promotes a calm sense of wellbeing and indirectly helps the body produce melatonin, our sleep hormone. For those who find it hard to unwind and struggle to have a deep, restorative sleep, evidence shows botanicals like Ashwagandha can help.

        Ashwagandha KSM-66®

        Ashwagandha KSM-66®

        Stay Calm®

        Stay Calm® is our acclaimed formula including Ashwagandha KSM-66®, along with other adaptogens including Schisandra, Cordyceps and Rhodiola, as well as vital amino-acids, shown to provide relief from symptoms of anxiety and stress in 81% of people. Research also shows people who take Stay Calm® experience improvements in mood, sleep and cognitive focus. You may also enjoy reading 'Why is everyone talking about Schisandra'. 

        Stay Calm®

        Stay Calm®

        Discover our range of clinically studied supplements for stress and anxiety.

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        Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. (2012). A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 Jul;34(3):255-62. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/
        Langade, D et al. (2019). Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Root Extract in Insomnia and Anxiety: A Double-blind, Randomized, Placebo-controlled Study. Cureus;11(9): e5797. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31728244/
        Lisa Damour- 3 steps of anxiety overload and how you can take back control.
        Gershon MD and Margolis KG. (2021) The gut, its microbiome, and the brain: connections and communications. J Clin Invest;131(18):e143768. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34523615/
        Madison AA et al. (2021). Omega-3 supplementation and stress reactivity of cellular aging biomarkers: an ancillary substudy of a randomized, controlled trial in midlife adults. Mol Psychiatry; 26(7):3034-3042. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33875799/
        Wongcharoen, W et al. (2012) Effects of curcuminoids on frequency of acute myocardial infarction after coronary artery bypass grafting - PubMed (nih.gov) Am J Cardiol.1;110(1):40-4.
        Fusar-Poli, L. (2021) The effect of cocoa-rich products on depression, anxiety, and mood: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 62:28, 7905-7916. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33970709/
        Won, E and Kim Yong-Ku.(2020 ) . Neuroinflammation-Associated Alterations of the Brain as Potential Neural Biomarkers in Anxiety Disorders (nih.gov)



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