Doctor: Cardiac-related stress problems hard to diagnose, treat

Florida coach Urban Meyer declined Sunday to give details of his heart-related stress problems.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

Florida coach Urban Meyer declined Sunday to give details of his heart-related stress problems.

Cardiac problems brought on by emotional stress — the sort of problems prompting Florida coach Utrban Meyer to take an indefinite leave of absence from his job — can be tricky to diagnose and treat.

"It's very hard to measure stress in a person," said Kevin Garner, a St. Petersburg cardiologist. "Unlike blood pressure, we don't have a gauge we can stick next to a person and say, 'Oh, you're at an eight, and you need to get down to a five.' "

Garner, who is not treating Meyer, thought it was likely that the coach's doctors have run stress tests or a heart catheterization to get a better understanding of his condition.

Meyer declined to detail his medical history during a news conference Sunday, but he acknowledged that coaching's grind had taken a toll.

A few hours after the Gators' loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 5, Meyer was hospitalized with chest pains. He was treated for dehydration and released Dec. 6.

Meyer said he has not had a heart attack but has continued to experience problems. He was advised to figure out a better work-life balance for his health.

No one-size-fits-all solution exists for people dealing with stress-related cardiac problems. Garner said some of his patients benefit from stress management programs through his practice at the Suncoast Medical Clinic. Others can work with their primary care physicians.

For Meyer, chest pains aren't the only problem. He also has a benign cyst on his brain that causes agonizing headaches when inflamed by stress. Meyer said he has worked to control that problem.

Doctor: Cardiac-related stress problems hard to diagnose, treat 12/27/09 [Last modified: Monday, December 28, 2009 9:20am]

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