Why conquering stress can help your heart

Learning to deal with stress can lower your risk for anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

The more we learn about women's hearts, the more we realize that they are different from men's. One of the most dramatic differences is a rare heart condition called takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken-heart syndrome, that is nine times more common in women than in men. It has been cited as evidence that sudden emotional stress can actually cause death in some women.

Like a heart attack, takotsubo cardiomyopathy strikes suddenly with symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath; however, it does not involve clogged arteries. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is brought on by a surge of stress hormones that literally bend the heart out of shape. As a result, when the main pumping chamber of the heart (the left ventricle) contracts, it balloons out, so it can't eject blood into the arteries effectively.

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