How Chronic Pain Can Damage Your Heart

Information about the link between chronic pain and sudden cardiovascular death is not new but is receiving renewed attention, as researchers point to the serious risk faced by certain populations of pain sufferers.

Among other things, the flares related to chronic pain conditions also cause elevation in blood pressure and pulse rate. In addition it is thought that the spikes of discomfort cause the hypothalamus and pituitary glands to release hormones stimulating the adrenal glands, causing an adrenaline spike as well. The occurrence of all of these things, at the same time, places strain on the cardiovascular system. Patients who have already been diagnosed with heart-related conditions can be at severe risk. The spike of adrenaline, blood pressure, and pulse rate can be fatal.

It is further thought that patients who are suffering from chronic pain may suffer periodic cortisol spikes, which causes elevated serum lipids and glucose levels. The result is often carbohydrate cravings. The calorie-packed snacks or meals that resolve the cravings are associated with obesity, which puts patients at an increased risk of heart-related complications.

There are a few warning signs that chronic pain patients can look for to determine if they are experiencing any cardiovascular strain during pain surges. Hypertension, dilated pupils, sweating, cold and clammy hands or feet, nausea, diarrhea, and insomnia are considered symptoms. Regular monitoring of blood pressure and pulse rate can help to detect a problem before it progresses into something much worse. Patients with coronary heart disease and angina in addition to a chronic pain condition should be regularly monitored and should speak to a physician about the use of long-acting opioids as preventative maintenance.

If you’re concerned about how your chronic pain may impair your cardiovascular health, please contact our pain specialists at Interventional Pain Associates.

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