Stress and Heart Health: It’s Related

Feb 6, 2023 | 2023, Health and Wellness

February is American Heart Month, a reminder about the importance of focusing on cardiovascular health. According to Harvard Medical School, the heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. This steady flow carries oxygen, fuel, hormones, other compounds, and a host of essential cells. It also removes carbon dioxide and wastes and is considered one of the most vital organs in the body. It’s safe to say these are compelling reasons to strive for a healthy heart.

While most people understand the risk factors for heart disease—family history, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and smoking—not everyone knows about the relationship between stress and heart health.

Stress can trigger the body to release adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes breathing and heart rate to speed up and blood pressure to rise. If stress becomes chronic, it may lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.

It is important to take an inventory of life’s stressors to see if some can be mitigated, better managed, or avoided altogether. Sometimes, just talking with someone can help put things in perspective. The following are a few resources available to Sutter Health Plus members.

Health Coaching
The Health Coaching Program is available to members at no cost. The program provides one-on-one training with a personal health coach by telephone to uncover barriers to self-management, set goals, and make healthier lifestyle choices for managing stress. Members can enroll in the Health Coaching program by calling 844-987-6095.

Mental Health Support
Members may self-refer to schedule secure, confidential in-person or virtual visits with a participating behavioral health provider through U.S. Behavioral Health Plan, California (USBHPC) anytime without a referral from their primary care physician. Members can schedule a visit through USBHPC by calling 855-202-0984 or online at

Additionally, a variety of mental wellness resources are available 24/7 at no cost by visiting, including a behavioral health provider locator tool, articles, self-assessment tools, and informational videos. Topics include parenting and caretaking, managing relationships, substance use, handling unexpected financial stress, and assisting a child or other loved one experiencing a mental health issue.

To learn more, members can refer to the Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services section of their Evidence of Coverage and Disclosure Form, contact USBHPC at 855-202-0984, or visit