ZocdocAnswersCan stress cause poor blood circulation?

Question

Can stress cause poor blood circulation?

Is it possible that stress could damage your blood circulation? I had never considered this until I noticed that I had the hardest time with my hands and feet around holidays, when I'm anxious about spending time with my family.

Answer

Stress has effects on the circulation. That being said, the changes in the circulation with stress should not give you problems in your hands or feet. I encourage you to speak with your primary doctor regarding your hand and feet complaints as stress likely does not account for these. Stress has many effects on the body.The main effect on the body is the release of adrenaline, or epinephrine. Adrenaline release is designed to help facilitate the 'fight or flight response.' When adrenaline is released into the circulation, it causes many changes that allow the person to 'fight or flight (run).' Blood is increased to the muscles and the heart rate + heart output increases. The skin blood vessels constrict to allow more blood to be sent to the muscles. In addition, blood is decreased to the stomach, gut, bladder. That being said, the decrease in the circulation is transient, and should not cause damage to the areas where blood is diverted from. Other causes of circulation problems include: high cholesterol, high blood pressure or inflammatory diseases. A common inflammatory disease with circulation problems is Raynaud's phenomenon. This causes changes in the hand's skin color and can represent underlying problems (such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disease). Note, cold weather also causes changes in circulation--so it could be the cold of the holiday season is responsible and not stress. I recommend you talk to your doctor.

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