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Stress-Induced Myocardial Injury : Causes, Symptoms, and Management Options

  1. Introduction

    1.1 What is Stress Induced Myocardial Injury?

    Stress-induced Myocardial Injury is a medical condition that can be triggered by extreme physical or emotional stressors. It is characterized by a temporary dysfunction of the heart, which can lead to symptoms such as chest pain and breathlessness. The clinical presentation of this condition can be quite similar to that of a myocardial infarction, and it can have a profound impact on the affected person’s physical and mental well-being. It is important to seek medical attention promptly if you experience these symptoms, as early intervention can help prevent further complications.[1]

    1.2 Purpose of this Article

    In this article, we will discuss about Stress-induced Myocardial Injury. This condition happens when someone experiences extreme physical or emotional stress, causing their heart to temporarily not work properly. We’ll discuss what can cause this condition, what kind of symptoms you might experience, and how doctors can diagnose and treat it. We’ll also look at how Stress-induced Myocardial Injury can affect you in the long term and how it relates to other heart problems. Our goal is to help you understand this condition and give you the information you need to take care of your heart health.

  2. Causes of Stress-Induced Myocardial Injury

    Stress-induced Myocardial Injury can be caused due to physical as well as emotional stress.

    2.1 Physical Stressors

    With regard to physical stressors performing intense training which are usually a part of the training regime of athletes and people involved with sports is one of the major causes of Stress-induced Myocardial Injury. Additionally, people who undergo a major or complicated surgery for a medical condition can also at times cause Stress-induced Myocardial Injury.[2]

    2.2 Emotional Stressors

    There are plenty of emotional stress that a person tends to experience throughout his lifetime. The most common emotional stressors include financial stress, relationship problems, and the loss of a loved one, all of which can cause stress-induced myocardial injury.[2]

    Research suggests that persistent stress activates the sympathetic nervous system which release the stress hormones which tend to negatively impact the functioning of the heart and cause damage to it.[2]

  3. Pathophysiology of Stress-Induced Myocardial Injury

    3.1 Role of the Sympathetic Nervous System

    Whenever a person is under significant emotional stress it triggers the sympathetic nervous system which releases stress hormones. These hormones result in what is termed as a “fight or flight” response. This in turn increases the heart rate, blood pressure, cardiac output .[3]

    If these stressors become persistent with frequent activation of the sympathetic nervous system with release of adrenaline and noradrenaline it ultimately starts causing damage to the heart muscle resulting in Stress-induced Myocardial Injury.[3]

    3.2 Activation of the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis

    The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal or the HPA axis is yet another vital element when it comes to the pathophysiology of Stress-induced Myocardial Injury. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) is responsible for release of cortisol which is another stress hormone that controls or regulates the body’s response to stress.[4]

    Frequent release of this hormone means that the HPA gets activated due to persistent stress and ultimately the heart muscle gets damaged causing Stress-induced Myocardial Injury.[4]

    3.3 Inflammatory Response

    At times persistent stress also affects the immune system. This results in the release of cytokines which is a hormone that has the tendency to damage the heart muscle resulting in Stress-induced Myocardial Injury. Studies have shown that elevated levels of CRP, which is an inflammatory marker, has been associated with Stress-induced Myocardial Injury.[5]

  4. Clinical Presentation of Stress-Induced Myocardial Injury

    4.1 Symptoms

    A person with Stress-induced Myocardial Injury will experience symptoms that are similar to a myocardial infarction to include shortness of breath and chest pain. However, unlike a myocardial infarction the symptoms caused by Stress-induced Myocardial Injury are reversible and the damage caused to the heart is not permanent and can be cured with proper treatment.[6]

    4.2 Diagnostic Tests

    For a confirmatory diagnosis of Stress-induced Myocardial Injury the patient will need to undergo a series of tests and investigations depending on the symptoms that the patient is experiencing. This will include an ECG which will clearly show the electrical activity of the heart and whether the heart is functioning normally.[7]

    Additionally, blood test to look for troponin levels will be checked to see if the levels are normal as in any other cardiac related event the troponin levels will be significantly high and will indicate damage caused to the heart muscle [7]

  5. Management of Stress-Induced Myocardial Injury

    5.1 Lifestyle Modifications

    The frontline management option for Stress Induced Myocardial Injury includes lifestyle management. Sine stress is the primary culprit here identifying ways to coping with emotional stress is the key[8]

    There are several ways to cope up with mental stress including participating in meditation or yoga, picking up a hobby like listening to calming music or going on a vacation an spend time with the family are all good ways of dealing with stress [8].

    Relationship issues are something that can sorted out by speaking with each other. Additionally, physical stress can be controlled with the ensuring that excessive stress is not put on the heart and try and ease out the training sessions. A good coping mechanism is a key to prevent Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury.[8]

    5.2 Medications

    Aside from lifestyle modifications, there are also certain medications available that are effective in treating Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury. Beta blockers are commonly given for people who have been diagnosed with this condition. These medications are usually given to people who have hypertension.[8]

    Beta blockers work by inhibiting the effect of catecholamines which are he hormones that activate the sympathetic nervous system during periods of stress and increase heart rate and blood pressure which are the two main components of a Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury thereby preventing the chances of recurrence of this condition in people who already have had it treated once.[8]

    ACE inhibitors are yet another class of medications deemed to be quite effective intreating Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury. These classes of medications are again antihypertensives which work by reducing inflammation and prevent development of atherosclerosis which may lead to other cardiovascular complications especially in people with Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury.[8]

    Some physicians prescribe calcium channel blockers and antiplatelet agents after looking at the risk factor profile of the patient and confirming the underlying cause of Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury.[8]

    5.3 Psychological interventions

    Since Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury is primarily psychological developing coping mechanism to stress is the key. This can be quite effectively done with the help of psychological support. Consulting with a psychologist about treatment interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy is recommended as it has shown to be quite effective in people with Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury.[8]

  6. Prognosis and Long-Term Outcomes

    6.1 Risk of Recurrent Stress-Induced Myocardial Injury

    The chances of Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury recurring in a person is quite variable and depends on the severity of the initial event and the underlying cause. It has been seen that people with a preexisting history of cardiovascular condition are more vulnerable to having recurrent episodes of Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury than people who do not have such a history.[9]

    Additionally, age, sex, other comorbidities, social and past medical history all contribute to the chances of whether a person may have recurrent episodes of Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury or not.[9]

    6.2 Relationship Between Stress-Induced Myocardial Injury and Cardiovascular Disease

    Research has shown a definite link between Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury and other the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. A person with hypertension, coronary artery disease or heart failure already have a compromised heart function. Over and above this physical and emotional stress puts that much extra burden on the heart which affects the way it works thereby causing a Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury.[10]

    However more research is undergoing in this area and more data needs to be collected. Some researchers opine that Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury may be a predicter of future cardiovascular events aside from the usual risk factors of age, sex, lifestyle habits, and other medical conditions. This further highlights the importance of recognizing and managing stress effectively to prevent any future potentially serious complications that may arise as a result of Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury.[10]

  7. Conclusion

    Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury is a condition in which there is transient dysfunction of the heart muscle brought on by physical and emotional stress. A person with Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury will experience symptoms that are quite similar to a heart attack after a strenuous workout or as a result of a major emotional stress.[1, 2, 3]

    However, while stress-induced myocardial injury can be reversible with proper treatment, it is not necessarily cured. The cause of Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury is primarily stress which activates various processes in the body through which stress hormones are released which tend to causa mage to the heart muscle [1, 2, 3].

    The best way to manage Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury is by identifying the stress and having a coping mechanism. A consultation with a clinical psychologist is recommended to effectively manage emotional and mental stress and going easy on exercise can help manage physical stress which are quite helpful in preventing any future episodes of Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury.[8]

    Additionally using medications can help the heart heal faster after the initial injury. While there is not much data available about the prognosis of Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury but studies clearly show a link between this condition and future risk of developing cardiovascular diseases in which the damage to the heart may be permanent.[8, 10]

    However, further research and data is required to better understand the mechanism behind Stress-Indued Myocardial Injury in order to develop better modes of management and prevention of this condition which is primarily caused by stress.[10]


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 4, 2023

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