Is stress itself is a risk factor for heart disease?
I think that by now the answer to the question ‘Does Stress Contribute to Heart Disease?’ is very clear. Yes, it does. There is a direct relationship between Stress and heart disease.
Medical researchers aren’t sure exactly how stress increases the risk of heart disease. Stress itself might be a risk factor, or it could be that high levels of stress make other risk factors (such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure) worse.
For example, if we are under stress, our blood pressure goes up, we overheat, we may exercise less and we may be more likely to smoke and drink alcohol.
If stress itself is a risk factor for heart disease, it could be because chronic stress exposes your body to unhealthy, persistently elevated levels of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Studies also link stress to changes in the way blood clots, which increases the risk of heart attack.
Does Stress Affect Everyone the Same?
No. People respond in different ways to events and situations. One person may find an event joyful and gratifying, but another person may find the same event miserable and frustrating. Sometimes, people may handle stress in ways that make bad situations worse by reacting with feelings of anger, guilt, fear, hostility, anxiety and moodiness. Others may face life’s challenges with ease.
What Causes Stress?
Stress can be caused by a physical or emotional change or a change in your environment that requires you to adjust or respond. Things that make you feel stressed are called “stressors.”
Stressors can be minor hassles, major lifestyle changes or a combination of both. Being able to identify stressors in your life and releasing the tension they cause are the keys to managing stress.
Below are some common stressors that can affect people at all stages of life.
- Illness, either personal or of a family member or friend
- Death of a friend or loved one
- Problems in a personal relationship
- Work overload
- Starting a new job
- Daily hassles
- Legal problems
- Financial concerns
What Are the Warning Signs of Stress?
When you are exposed to long periods of stress, your body gives warning signals that something is wrong. These physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral warning signs should not be ignored. They tell you that you need to slow down. If you continue to be stressed and you don’t give your body a break, you are likely to develop health problems. You could also worsen an existing illness.
Below are some common stress warning signs.
Physical signs: Dizziness, general aches and pains, grinding teeth, clenched jaws, headaches, indigestion, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, racing heart, ringing in the ears, stooped posture, sweaty palms, tiredness, exhaustion, trembling, weight gain or loss, upset stomach
Mental signs: Constant worry, difficulty making decisions, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate, lack of creativity, loss of sense of humour, poor memory
Emotional signs: Anger, anxiety, crying, depression, feeling powerless, frequent mood swings, irritability, loneliness, negative thinking, nervousness, sadness
Behavioural signs: Bossiness, compulsive eating, critical attitude of others, explosive actions, frequent job changes, impulsive actions, increased use of alcohol or drugs, withdrawal from relationships or social situations
In conclusion; we started this page with the question Does Stress Contribute to Heart Disease? Clearly, it does. Therefore, if we are susceptible to heart disease we should do all that we can to mitigate the effects of stress. Much of which is caused by day-to-day living.
There are several ways to manage stress, however, the regular practice of Vedic Mediation is one of the most effective ways at reducing stress and improving overall health without any changes to lifestyle.
Related Research findings:
Effects of Chronic Stress on the Brain
Chronic stress creates excessive levels of cortisol in the brain, impairing the function, short term and contextual memory …
Effects of Stress on the Immune System
Chronic stress affects the immune system by increasing sympathetic activity and decreasing cellular immunity …
Effects of Chronic Stress on the Cardiovascular and Metabolic System
Chronic stress can create significant damage to the cardiovascular system by increasing the risk of coronary artery disease …
Normal and Abnormal Responses to Stress
When stressed, your body creates extra energy to protect itself. If not used, this extra energy creates an imbalance within your system.
The Biochemical Response to Stress
Chronic acute stress leads to an out of balance biochemistry with elevated cortisol and suppressed serotonin, consequently, stress plays a major causative role in both physical and mental health …
When we are under stress our bodies are functioning in survival mode (fight, flight or freeze)
Our immune system weakens, we tend to be more reactive (rather than responsive), more guarded, defensive (crying over spilt milk). And most importantly – our quality of life, our life satisfaction is lowered.
Vedic Meditation is one of the most powerful techniques available for reducing stress and anxiety. As a result, you no longer store as much stress and tension in your body. This allows you to start responding to life with a positive attitude – relaxed, resilient and care-free. It is also one of the easiest to learn and simplest to practice.
If you are in Auckland (NZ) call me on 09 419 5380. Or email to find our how Vedic Meditation could help you achieve better health.
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