Emotion and Heart Valves

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Valve Disease
Last Reviewed 04/16/2014

One fairly common problem that comes with aging is leaking heart valves. When valves become damaged from the effects of time or illness, blood can leak backward through the heart and cause a strain on the organ. This problem may manifest as shortness of breath, palpitations, rapid heart rhythm, irregular or skipped heart beats, discomfort in the chest, or ankle swelling.

Severe shortness of breath was the symptom that recently brought a new patient to see Dr. Sinatra. She was a 78-year-old newsletter reader who had attended a subscriber seminar last year. Her heart rate was faster than normal, and whenever she became emotionally upset, her breathing difficulties got worse. Her problem was a leaking mitral valve—a frequent site of dysfunction, especially in people over 60. When you add emotional stress, you are really looking for trouble. Blood pressure levels go even higher, there’s more leakage, and the heart strains even more.

Dr. Sinatra reminded her that she had to be extra careful about emotional stress because of the condition of her valve. She was already quite aware that stress was a problem for her. Years ago, she took low-dose tranquilizers to calm her down, but she hadn’t wanted to stay on the drugs because she feared addiction.

Dr. Sinatra suggested she consider yoga, T’ai chi, meditation, or some other good method to reduce stress. She said she liked T’ai chi and already did it. He told her to do it more.

He then asked her if she allowed herself to cry. She said yes. That’s good because crying is great release for emotional stress. Her husband, who had come with her, wondered why about laughter. Wasn’t laughter better for stress release and helpful for ailing hearts?

Both are good, and they are certainly better than holding emotions in the heart. Sometimes you laugh to the point of crying. When you cry or laugh a lot, the body releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s own painkillers. They have a natural tranquilizing effort. In other words, releasing these emotions is good for you mind, soul, and body!

For more information on alternative therapies for cardiovascular problems, visit www.drsinatra.com. While there, sign up for FREE e-letters or subscribe to Dr. Sinatra’s monthly newsletter, Heart, Health & Nutrition.
 

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