Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from a negative situation or demanding circumstances. It can have a major influence upon mood, our sense of well-being, behaviour, and health.
Constant stress has been linked to higher activity in an area of the brain linked to processing emotions, and an increased likelihood of developing heart and circulatory disease.
The researchers, from Harvard University, suggested stress could be as important a risk factor as smoking or high blood pressure. It’s important to note that the long-term effects of stress can damage your health and is also a risk factor for heart disease.
Your body’s response to stress is supposed to protect you. But, if it's constant, it can harm you. The hormone cortisol is released in response to stress. Studies suggest that the high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. These are common risk factors for heart disease. This stress can also cause changes that promote the buildup of plaque deposits in the arteries.
Factors that are commonly regarded as components of ‘stress’ include:
depression, anxiety, panic disorder
social isolation and lack of quality social support
life events such as bereavement, diagnosis of chronic illness, or severe life changes
anger and hostility.
Stress is a key risk factor for heart disease. Knowing when to adjust your lifestyle and situation is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle.
Understanding stress, stress management and relaxation are vital in ensuring good mental health, and in adjusting to the pressures and strains of everyday life.
The following to help manage stress and keep your heart healthy.
Get plenty of exercise- good workout 20-30 minutes each day
Build a strong support system- meet friends and family or join a support group like Heart Support Australia
Seek treatment for constant depression or anxiety – reach out to your GP or call helplines for support
Reduce stress from work – take some time away from work to reduce the load and take breaks to ensure there is no increased stress
Heart Disease Is Stressful
It’s important to remember that heart disease is stressful. Going to hospital, facing surgery and dealing with the changes in your daily life and family routine – can be traumatic. For some people, the diagnosis of a heart condition or living with ongoing health problems may be a continual strain. Managing stress and knowing when to pull back or ask for help is an important element in coping with heart disease. If you are struggling emotionally with your diagnosis or change in life situation talk to your GP, specialist or call BeyondBlue or Lifeline.
Joining a support group can help you vent your feelings and also be a great way to interact with other individuals.
Heart Support Australia runs monthly support groups in locations across Australia. To join call us at 0262530097 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org