New research shows scientific evidence that mental stress alone can trigger heartbeat irregularities. Arrhythmias are disturbances in normal heart rhythm. Researchers studied the variation in heart rhythms while patients were under mental and physical stress. They included patients who were at risk for arrhythmias and healthy patients.
For the study, researchers measured mental stress by having patients recall a recent incident that made them angry and also by having them figure out a math problem while being interrupted and told to improve their performance.
Researchers found heart rhythm variations increased during both mental stress and exercise. A higher difference was noted in patients who are prone to have arrhythmias, especially during the mental tests. Researchers say mental stress alone is capable of inducing cardiac electrical instability in patients who are vulnerable to arrhythmias, and that it can occur at lower heart rates than with exercise.
Thus researchers say these findings suggest there is a difference in how the body responds to mental and physical stress , however they feel that larger studies are required to further explore these differences.