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The Hidden Source of Heart Attacks That You Never Considered

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 11/23/2023

The Hidden Source of Heart Attacks That You Never Considered

Ever feel your heart pounding wildly when you're stressed? Beneath the surface of your racing heart lies an intricate connection between stress and cardiovascular health. Stress doesn't just mess with your head; it can also strain your heart.

In this read, we'll dig deep into how stress - an everyday villain – secretly conspires with lactic acid and glucose production to stage a full-blown attack on our hearts. It appears as if something from a spy movie is occurring.

We'll go under the hood of heart disease, show you how hypoxia sneaks up on us during heart attacks, and unveil some surprising accomplices along the way (Hint: B1 & B12).

Are you curious about how lifestyle choices or certain medications may be influencing this silent drama within us? Hang tight because we're just getting started on the discussion.

Understanding Heart Disease and Heart Attacks

An overview of heart disease, the primary source of mortality globally, and its correlation with hypoxia in inducing cardiac arrest.

The Mechanism of Heart Attacks

An explanation of how a lack of oxygen leads to heart muscle malfunction and the onset of a heart attack.

Heart disease, often synonymous with cardiovascular disease, is a global killer. It's not some far-off threat but the leading cause of death worldwide. This might sound intimidating, but understanding heart health can help us tackle it head-on.

The crux of many heart-related issues lies in hypoxia - a fancy term for oxygen deprivation to your body tissues. You see, our hearts are like demanding bosses that need constant attention—in this case, oxygen—to function efficiently.

A lack of oxygen can make any workaholic boss—err... I mean heart—malfunction over time. When your ticker doesn't get enough O2, you're at risk for something as serious as a heart attack. Imagine working on an important project without electricity; harsh, right?

Similarly, deprived of its life force (oxygen), parts of the heart muscle start to die off—a grim event known medically as myocardial infarction or, put, a heart attack.

This connection between stress and cardiac events isn't just anecdotal—it's supported by plenty of research. Chronic stress ramps up adrenaline production, which spikes glucose levels, leading to more lactic acid – remember our hypoxia culprit?

Cardiovascular system illustration

The Role of Lactic Acid in Heart Disease

Have you ever pondered the cause of your sore muscles after a strenuous workout? That's lactic acid at work. But did you know this same substance plays a role in heart disease, too?

How Elevated Lactic Acid Levels Impact Health

Lactic acid is produced when our bodies break down glucose for energy, especially during stress or heavy exercise. Usually, it’s not a problem - we breathe harder to eliminate the extra carbon dioxide that comes with lactic acid production.

But what happens if there’s too much? Excess lactic acid can lead to hypoxia – where parts of your body don’t get enough oxygen. This condition can damage heart muscle and even trigger arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms).

A study found that high blood pressure and arterial damage are also associated with elevated levels of lactic acid.

Stress and Its Connection to Heart Disease

Chronic stress isn't just bad for your mental health; it can also put a severe strain on your heart. The reason? It's all about adrenaline and glucose.

Under stress, our bodies switch into 'fight or flight' mode, a response that releases adrenaline and causes the liver to produce more glucose for an energy boost.

This response triggers the release of adrenaline, which in turn prompts the liver to produce more glucose - instant energy for our bodies.

However, Research shows that prolonged exposure to this state can lead to higher-than-normal glucose levels in the bloodstream. Over time, these elevated sugar levels could potentially damage arteries and increase risk factors associated with heart disease.

The Impact of Chronic Stress on Adrenaline and Glucose Levels

We need a basic understanding of human biology to understand how chronic stress impacts us physically.

In short bursts - like when you're fleeing danger - adrenaline serves its purpose well. But suppose those stressful situations keep coming without reprieve (like an overly demanding job).

In that case, we run into problems: our systems are flooded with both excess adrenaline and glucose over extended periods, leading to potential health complications such as hypertension or diabetes, two known precursors for heart disease.

Other Contributing Factors to Hypoxia and Lactic Acidosis

In addition to the familiar sources of cardiac illness, like persistent strain and increased lactic acid, other causes can lead to hypoxia - a lack of oxygen in one's tissues. Some lifestyle choices or medications might surprise you.

Excessive alcohol intake has been associated with a rise in lactic acid levels within the body. When we drink more than our liver can handle, it starts producing lactate, which leads us closer to hypoxic conditions.

This study gives an insight into how drinking affects our bodily functions. Certain drugs like metformin also increase lactate production due to their impact on cell metabolism. Here's some evidence.

So remember: knowledge is power. Be aware of these hidden links between what we consume and its effects on our heart health.

The Importance of Vitamins B1 and B12 in Preventing Hypoxia

Thiamine and cobalamin are essential components of the energy production process in our body, with a deficiency in either leading to hypoxia. A deficiency in either can increase lactate levels, leading to hypoxia - a condition characterized by low oxygen supply to the tissues.

But how does this happen? Vitamin B1 is vital for converting food into ATP (energy), while vitamin B12 helps produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen around your body. So, if you lack these vitamins, it’s like trying to run a marathon without any water stations – it will not end well.

To avoid this scenario, consider adding more sources of these vitamins into your diet or taking supplements. Foods rich in vitamin B1 include pork, trout, and green peas, while foods high in vitamin B12 include fish, meat, and dairy.

Strategies for Reducing Stress and Mitigating Heart Attack Risk

For those seeking to keep stress at bay and lower the risk of a heart attack, numerous tactics can be implemented. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress.

Stable exercise releases endorphins, your body's natural mood boosters, and helps maintain blood pressure levels essential for heart health.

Ketogenic food

The Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet in Stress Management and Heart Health

A ketogenic diet might seem like an unexpected strategy, but this low-carb approach can be beneficial. Limiting glucose production—often ramped up by chronic stress—it supports healthier responses within your body.

Studies have shown this diet may lower inflammation levels and potentially reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin Supplementation for Heart Health

Beyond lifestyle changes like dieting or exercising more often, consider supplementing with vitamins B1 (thiamine) and tocotrienols—a type of vitamin E—to increase oxygen supply to your heart muscle cells.

Research on the benefits of vitamin E shows that these supplements play crucial roles in maintaining cardiac health.


There you have it - the hidden link between stress and heart attacks, decoded. It's more than just a pounding heartbeat during stressful moments; it's a complex web of glucose production, adrenaline release, and lactic acid buildup leading to hypoxia.

We've unraveled how lifestyle choices and certain medications can play into this silent drama within us. And we’ve shed light on unexpected heroes like vitamins B1 & B12 that help fight off these stealthy villains.

But remember: knowledge is power only when put into action. Start by managing your stress levels with exercise or relaxation techniques. Consider trying out a ketogenic diet or vitamin supplementation for heart health benefits.

Your heart will thank you in the long run!

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