An expert guide to chronic stress and heart health


Dr Paul Jenkins of Echelon Health on how early detection of stress-related heart issues can have a significant impact on future health

While a certain amount of stress can have beneficial effects on your body, such as stimulating alertness, motivation, and a readiness to respond to potential threats, scientific research underscores that excessive stress can have detrimental consequences, potentially leading to illness and exacerbating specific symptoms or diseases. This can adversely affect your mood, immune system, digestive functions, and notably, your cardiovascular health. Chronic stress, in particular, raises concerns about an elevated risk of heart attack. Over time, persistent increases in heart rate and high blood pressure can inflict damage upon your arteries, consequently heightening the probability of a heart attack or stroke.

At Echelon Health we specialise in tailored preventative health assessments. These assessments have the capability to identify up to 95% of the root causes of diseases, often years before they manifest symptoms, with a particular focus on coronary heart disease (CHD). While certain life stressors might be unavoidable, the most effective solution lies in proactive healthcare, which can facilitate the early detection of these issues.

Dr Paul Jenkins of Echelon Health

Dr Paul Jenkins of Echelon Health

How is a cardiac scan conducted?
Our cardiac assessment comprises two primary components. The initial element involves a CT heart scan (calcium score), which examines your cardiac arteries for any accumulation of calcium – an early indicator of atheromatous disease, commonly referred to as arterial plaque buildup. A lower calcium score corresponds to a reduced risk of future heart-related events.

Can the adverse effects of stress be mitigated in any way?
Regular physical activity serves as an effective means of alleviating chronic severe stress, alongside practices like meditation and yoga. Engaging in a calming hobby aligned with your interests, social interactions and laughter also contribute positively. Many individuals find solace in nature appreciation walks for potential benefits.

Can arterial damage resulting from chronic stress be reversed?
While the damage to cardiac arteries may exhibit potential for reversal, the paramount objective, particularly when identified in early stages, is to arrest its progression or, at the very least, decelerate its advancement.

What are the subsequent steps if adverse effects of chronic stress are identified?
Should early signs of coronary artery disease be detected, it might necessitate lifestyle modifications, such as reduced fat and alcohol intake, or an enhanced cardiovascular exercise regimen. More pronounced indications could entail medication like statins, coupled with addressing blood pressure concerns. Severe cases may entail the placement of a stent to alleviate areas of constriction.

What is your approach to detecting these early signs?
Our proactive, anticipatory and entirely personalised approach involves cutting-edge technology and comprehensive assessments, aimed at averting premature mortality while identifying the root causes of diseases in up to 92% of cases among men and up to 95% among women. Following each assessment, I provide an individualised session to elucidate test outcomes, delivering a comprehensive health analysis and tailored healthcare recommendations for the future.