by Glen Depke
We are coming up on the end of heart health awareness month and I cannot believe I have not discussed one major factor in heart health that most will not recognize, and this is adrenal health.
First off, let’s recognize that one of the top three impacts on heart health is mental/emotional stress. But how is this tied into both your cardiovascular system and adrenal function?
An elevated cortisol response to mental stress was linked to higher cardiac troponin T levels, suggesting that cortisol over-reactivity might explain why some people are more likely to develop heart disease.
When you are presented with a stressor, your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain will set off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones with cortisol being the most prominent response. This response will increase your heart rate, elevate your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol which is your primary stress hormone, will increases sugar (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.
Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a “fight or flee” situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear. The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.
But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that “fight or flee” reaction stays turned on.
The long-term activation of the stress response system and the chronic elevated cortisol and other stress hormones, can and will disrupt almost all your body’s processes.
Let’s also understand that there are further adrenal stress triggers than just mental/emotional stress. There is also food sensitivity, the standard American diet (SAD), high in sugar and processed foods, infection and inflammation. Interestingly enough, all of the top three cardiovascular risks are all tied into the adrenal response also. These would be inflammation, food sensitivity and diet and the chronic mental/emotional stress.
Your adrenal gland function will also affect many other areas that will also affect heart function. This would include those listed below.
- Thyroid function
- Pancreas function
- Metabolism of fat and protein
- Cellular energy
- Neuronal connectivity
- Sleep and mood
As you can see with today’s information, a long term response of adrenal stress will most likely also significantly impact your heart and the whole of your cardiovascular system. So while you of course want to address the three most significant factors with heart disease, to repeat, chronic inflammation, food sensitivity and diet along with chronic mental/emotional stress, it will also be a key to look at your adrenal function.
If you not taken this step on your health journey, we offer a complimentary assessment to assist you in understanding your personal state of adrenal insufficiency. Get your FREE assessment right here.
So in ending, it is correct that your adrenals can take down your heart, but thankfully you can do something about this.
If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave these below for us to address personally.