AUSTIN (KXAN) —The Journal of American Heart Association recently published a study showing the stress of balancing work and family demands have more of a negative impact on a woman’s heart health than a man’s heart.

Dr. Deborah Ekery a cardiologist at Austin Heart, says the stress of the holidays only adds to the problem. She sees more women around the months of November and December at her practice at Heart Hospital of Austin. She adds stress may negatively impact women more so than men for a number of reasons.

“Many times it’s the multiple responsibilities from a lot of different directions. Their immediate family stresses at home, work related stress, stress may be taking care of an elderly parent,” said Dr. Ekery.

All that stress, says Dr. Ekery is bad for your heart. She says stress releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that can lead to a heart attack or high blood pressure.

“It can also lead to unhealthy habits, people who smoke may smoke heavily when they are stressed. People who drink alcohol may drink heavily while under stress especially around the holidays,” she explains.

If you feel pain or chest discomfort, have trouble breathing or break out in a cold sweat, that’s when it’s more than just the demands of the holidays and time to get help says Dr. Ekery. “Sometimes stress can create heart problems, however, people who have preexisting heart disease or risk factors for heart disease may be more susceptible to the effects of stress.”