How emotions affect the health of our heart

How emotions affect the health of our heart

Although emotions have their origin in the nervous system, the strong link between the heart and emotions becomes increasingly evident. There are behavioral and biological pathways, as well as psychosocial factors with which the incidence and maintenance of cardiovascular problems is associated, especially, of coronary diseases, these are produced due to blood vessel disorders.

Emotions are defined as a mental state that arises spontaneously, it is a sensation or emotional state that is accompanied by organic changes -physiological and endocrine- of innate origin, influenced by experience. It is not a conscious effort.


  • 1 Memory and emotional responses
  • 2 How does anxiety and chronic stress harm our heart?
  • 3 Broken heart syndrome or tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy (STK)
  • 4 Clinical depression and heart
  • 5 'Voodoo Death' or 'Sudden Death'
  • 6 What rhythm does your heart follow?
  • 7 Psychosocial factors that affect the heart

Memory and emotional responses

There is a record of our emotional life written in our body, an important part of it, is in our hearts”.

The cerebral tonsil save emotional memoriesespeciallythe 'non pleasing'; likewise, it processes the sensory information received together with the effector systems of the brainstem and the hypothalamus, helping to mediate specific emotional responses.

Although the heart is not where our feelings are generated, it is highly sensitive to them: “fear and sorrow for the loss of a loved one, for example, can cause a deep heart injury”, Said Dr. Sandeep Jauhar (2019), famous cardiologist who has stood out for his work in the area, as well as for his books and articles regarding the health of the target organ.

How does anxiety and chronic stress harm our heart?

The limbic system helps our survival, because it has the ability to empower the individual to respond quickly when the situation requires it, together with the tonsil, they are related to coping responses to anxiety and stress.

When is stress a major threat to health? By enduring through long periods of time and if we add anxiety problems, both become psychosocial factors that influence the maintenance of pain, which often accompanies not only physical conditions, but the emotional discomfort we experience when we have a difficult life experience. It is toxic to be constantly exposed to the "discharges" of cortisol, adrenaline and other substances that your body produces secrete when it is under a lot of stress.

Some of the most frequent health problems that occur when you suffer chronic stress They can be: digestive problems such as gastritis and nervous colitis, headaches - from small headaches to migraines -, eating disorders and weight control problems, lack of sleep and chronic fatigue syndrome, among the main ones. It has also been observed a detriment in attention span, memory, learning and other important cognitive processes.

Emotions also have a strong connection with pain, according to neurologist Jordi Montero: "Stress and anxiety can intensify the level and perception of pain, an aspect that is associated with a greater degree of disability in the patient."

In turn, “the nerves that control unconscious processes such as heartbeat can feel anguish and trigger a fight response or maladaptive avoidance behaviors, causing constriction of blood vessels, a galloping heart rhythm and a rise in blood pressure that can cause damage”, Said Sandeep Jauhar (2019).

Hence, pessimistic people are associated with a high risk of manifesting cardiovascular disease (Rozanski, Alan; Chirag, Bavishi; Kubzansky, Laura et al .; 2019), therefore, some personality traits represent another psychosocial risk factor.  

Broken heart syndrome or tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy (STK)

In "broken heart syndrome" or "tako-tsubo cardiomyopathy" (STK), it is an acute coronary event, in which the heart weakens in response to pain or highly stressful situations, it is also known as'transient apical dyskinesia '; Although it is considered benign, it can present serious complications, the subjects that suffer from it, manifest important arrhythmias and it is frequent the appearance of varying degrees of heart failure (IC), is life threatening, so it requires timely medical attention. Dr. Sandeep Jauhar (2019), tells us that takotsubo cardiomyopathy: "It has also been found after a happy event", we can appreciate once again that: Emotions are linked to the physiology of the heart.

What are some typical symptoms of a “broken heart”?

The same as when we have a loss that causes us a "pain in the heart" and / or pain: you cannot fall asleep when you lie down, recurring thoughts and our immune system is depressed, among others. In a study that was done in this regard, 40% of people with 'broken heart', manifested depression. What gaps and emotions left that love that left your life? 'Breaking your heart like this' ...

The loss of a "love" can cause the subject to malfunction in work, studies, or any other field; when accompanied by intense pain, it can alter some of our cognitive processes such as intelligence, hindering logic, reasoning and decision making. If it has been a long time and you have not been able to overcome that feeling of oppression in your chest after the loss of someone, it is advisable for your health to consult with a psychologist.

Clinical depression and heart

Heart: stand up! Close your wound. Dry your tears, cheer up your mansion,Forget your pain Cover flowers, your subtle den. ”Abraham Valdelomar.

Depression is a health problem that can become serious, especially in patients with cardiovascular problems, as often acts as a barrier to adherence to medical treatments, resulting in a more rapid progression of clinical disease (Roose, S. P .; Glassman, A. H .; 1994). In addition to the fact that some antidepressants, such as psychotropic drugs from the family of tricyclics taken for a long time, may be another risk factor for developing coronary heart disease.

Death by pain has been seen in spouses and siblings. 'Broken hearts' are literally and metaphorically deadly. These associations are valid even for animals" Sandeep Jauhar, 2019

'Voodoo Death' or 'Sudden Death'

It is well known that different cardiac syndromes, may become after a surprise, although this is for pleasant reasons, after a dislike or even for a good scare: as the cases of "Sudden death" or "voodoo death", term used for the first time in 1942, by Walter Cannon, who described cases of subjects who had the firm belief that "something external" had "cursed them", feeling 'condemned and hopeless', the patients manifested certain physiological responses and they were likely to die instantly well: their blood vessels constricted dramatically, they presented significant alterations in blood pressure, their heart was weakening and there was massive damage to some organs, due to the significant lack of oxygen (Sandeep Jauhar, 2019).

What rhythm does your heart follow?

Have you ever stopped to listen and feel your heartbeat? It is one of the most powerful meditations and one of the most precious 'mantras'.

Each heartbeat emits a sound (beat), which follows a pattern, thus configuring a particular rhythm. Our heart can have a melodious compass or a little harmonic, it depends on several factors; However, the sounds produced are sent to emotional centers in the brain, you can recognize and classify feelings as negative (stressful), or positive by the rhythm that your heart follows.

exist emotions that produce physiological effects as: "fear and grief, which can cause a deep heart injury" (Sandeep Jauhar). ¿How do some heart problems manifest? Through arrhythmias, palpitations, heart attacks, weak pulse, blood pressure and chest tension, among others.

Worrying too much, emotions accompanied by anger, frustration, fear, sadness or anxiety, can make heart rhythm patterns erratic. While when we experience: love, care, appreciation, gratitude, service, compassion and forgiveness, there is a very different rhythm in the heart ... one that is associated more with health, Buddha said:

Do not live in the past, do not dream about the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. The road is not in heaven: the road is in the heart

Psychosocial factors that affect the heart

Epidemiological evidence is increasingly strong, several investigations provide the causal associations between the incidence of coronary disease and psychosocial factors, some of them lead to significant cardiovascular risk, such as: overweight, obesity, lack of regular physical activity, smoking, unhealthy eating patterns, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood sugar levels (Rozanski, A., Blumenthal, JA, Kaplan, J., 1999). An advantage is that most of these factors can be regulated through adherence to medical, psychological and / or psychopharmacological treatment, if necessary, as well as the exercise of the will.

A case study with myocardial infarction, conducted in 52 countries, reported that the psychosocial stress represents approximately 30% risk of suffering from acute myocardial infarction (Molinari, E .; Comapare, A. and Parati, G .; 2006). What are some psychosocial factors that promote heart problems? The list is headed by important health problems such as: chronic stress, anxietydepression and isolation Social mainly, but certain personality traits also come into play.


To provide more health to your heart, you must try to listen, feel and tune your emotions with the rhythm of your own heart ... Well, even with the advances in science and biotechnology, with the benefits that presuppose: health, depends, in great measure, in the way we choose to live at every moment. Therefore, taking into account and taking care of the biopsychosocial aspects in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, can make a big difference in the course of a disease of this type and in the prevention of them.

Electronics references




Guerri Marta (2014). Emotional intelligence. A useful guide to improve your life. Spain: Mestas Editions.

Roose, S. P .; Glassman, A. H., (1994) Antidepressant choice in the patient with cardiac disease: lessons from Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST) studies. J. Clin. Psychiatry 55. Suppl A: 83-100.

Molinari, E .; Comapare, A. and Parati, G. (2006). Clinical Psychology and Heart Disease. Milan, Italy: Springer.