Heart surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp has shared the four surprising things that are affecting your heart health – and revealed you can die of a broken heart.
Dr Stamp said while we tend to focus on our outer health like our skin and what size jeans we fit into, it’s often what goes on inside that’s more important.
The surgeon explained how stress, supplements, tea and coffee and heartbreak impact our heart for better and worse.
Heart surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp (pictured) has shared the four surprising things that are affecting your heart health – and revealed why you can die of a broken heart
Dr Stamp (pictured) said there is truth to the fact you can die of a broken heart, as the chest is the place where we often ‘feel’ most strongly
We’ve all heard the saying ‘you can die of a broken heart’, and it turns out there is some truth to the age-old phrase.
‘There are so many stressful things that happen in our lives, and you do feel it in your body,’ Dr Stamp told Women’s Health.
‘It’s that chest tightness, your heart racing, and it’s all driven by your emotions, setting off a cascade of hormones that were designed originally to help us fight off sabre tooth tigers.’
Speaking previously to MailOnline, Dr Stamp revealed why heartbreak affects the heart and your health as much as it does.
‘The chest is the place where we often “feel” most strongly. There is that dull ache when we have lost someone, the tightness of anxiety, the lightness of love or elation,’ Dr Stamp said.
‘So is it really possible to die of a broken heart? In short, yes, it is. Our emotions and mental well-being can have a real impact on the health of our hearts.’
Dr Stamp revealed the medical name for this is takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or stress-induced cardiomyopathy.
Takotsubo is the name of a squid-fishing pot used by Japanese fishermen, which looks like a damaged heart. Cardiomyopathy means heart muscle disease.
‘This syndrome – caused when someone is subjected to a horrible shock – is similar to a heart attack,’ she said.
‘Emotions cause the release of huge amounts of hormones such as adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine that lead the coronary arteries to spasm and squeeze down, limiting vital blood supply to the heart muscle cells, which in turn leads to heart-attack symptoms.’
‘[While a little stress isn’t harmful] over time, stress will eventually erode your mental health and your ability to do simple things that are good for your health,’ Dr Stamp (pictured) said
It’s not just heartbreak that has a profoundly negative impact on our general heart health, but stress from running around and working too hard.
‘[While a little stress isn’t harmful] over time, that stress will eventually erode your mental health and your ability to do simple things that are good for your health,’ Dr Stamp told Women’s Health.
She said it’s difficult to properly look after yourself when you’re burning the candle at both ends, and instead you should incorporate some practices which mean you’re able to relax.
Dr Stamp also said that good sleep is vital for our heart health.
‘Lack of sleep stresses our bodies and brains so cortisol is pumped out, thereby increasing blood pressure, which over an extended period of time can damage the heart,’ she told MailOnline.
‘One study found an insomniac was 1.8 times more likely to have hypertension (high blood pressure) than someone who slept well.’
Dr Stamp (pictured) isn’t convinced by supplements, as she said you’re far better off getting your nutrients from food, where you also get fibre and water
The supplement industry has been booming in recent years, with more people than ever turning to vitamins and minerals in tablet form for their health.
But while they might be popular, the heart surgeon isn’t convinced.
‘For most of us, particularly in a developed country and for people who are educated and middle class, a lot of us get all the nutrients we need from the food we eat,’ Dr Nikki said.
With Vitamin C for example, she said it’s much easier to get your prerequisite amount from an orange, where you also get fibre and water, rather than from a tablet.
TEA AND COFFEE
In good news for caffeine lovers, tea and coffee don’t have a negative effect on the heart like you might think.
Dr Stamp said there are studies which prove that both green and black tea have compounds in them that are good for your heart, brain and blood vessel health.
Of course, she added, you don’t have to drink these things for increased health – it’s more if you enjoy them already.
But there is no need to worry that they are having a negative effect on your heart.