It is not only stress that can affect your heart health but your thoughts about how stress can impact your health. CardioSmart.org reported on a study that was published in the European Heart Journal, which found that "our perception of stress can also have an enormous impact on risk for heart attack."
After following more than 7,200 middle-aged men and women in the United Kingdom for 18 years and "adjusting for the many factors that could explain the relationship between perceived stress and heart attack risk, like age or blood pressure, researchers were able to identify perception of stress as an independent risk factor for heart attack." Those study participants who thought stress was having a negative toll on their health were 50% more likely to have a heart attack than those who did not believe that stress had a negative impact on their health.
CardioSmart.org concludes that was not that these study participants simply imagined stress; these people were probably actually stressed and feeling that they were vulnerable to heart attack was not an ill-conceived notion.
But what exactly is stress?
Being stressed does not look the same for everyone and some people think stress makes them perform better at work or at school. However, as the study shows, many people are able to detect when their own stress levels have become too high and when stress starting to take a heavy toll. If you know that you feel taxed and overwhelmed or if you can recall that you have recently commented on your stress level to someone else, it may be time to consider what you can do to reduce stress in your life.
Check out this chart from HelpGuide.org that divides the warning signs and symptoms of stress into four categories: cognitive, emotional, behavioral and physical.