Don’t underestimate the effect of stress. Too much stress can be a problem. Feeling constantly stressed can be bad for your heart. According to a new study, experiencing stress for a long time can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke.
People experience stress due to physical causes including — not getting enough sleep or falling sick. Emotional causes include worrying about the future, earning money, or the death of a loved one. The body’s response to stress will protect you. But if it is constantly occurring then stress can harm you. Several studies showed that high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can raise blood cholesterol, blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure. These are known as the common causes of heart disease.
Stress and Heart Disease: What’s the Connection?
Stress may increase inflammation in the body that in turn is connected to factors that can harm the heart including high blood pressure and lower good HDL cholesterol. However chronic stress can also directly harm the heart. When you experience stress, it will affect your sleeping routine which will make you feel tired the next day.
Studies on Stress and Heart Disease
A study published in The Lancet showed that stress could be linked to heart and circulatory disease in humans. The research consisted of two studies. The big study examined 293 people and took their brain scans. It revealed that when people are feeling stressed, the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with stress, signals to the bone marrow to make extra white blood cells. This in turn can cause inflammation in arteries. Inflammation is associated with the process that leads to heart attacks, strokes, and angina. When you feel stressed, the amygdala sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus to communicate to the rest of the body. This study showed increased bone-marrow activity and arterial inflammation were the reasons for the links between the amygdala and later heart events and stroke.
The second study focused on inflammation of the arteries and activity in the amygdala in highly stressed people. People who reported themselves as more stressed were more likely to experience higher arterial inflammation.
Tips to Manage Stress
- Change your regular activities to lower your stress
- Learn to accept that everything cannot be controlled
- Before you agree to do some work, make sure you can really complete it. It is completely fine to say no to tasks that will add more stress to your life.
- Talk to your friends or with the people you love.
- Listen to music, read books, meditate, pray, or do yoga to stay relaxed.
- Exercise regularly as it improves your health and helps you stay more energetic.