The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for you. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults. And research shows that stress and heart attacks are related because stress is a contributing factor to high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
As a result of this finding, stress-management has been incorporated in many heart disease prevention and treatment programs. But more research is needed to determine how stress contributes to heart disease, which is the leading killer of Americans.
Researchers with the American Heart Association point out that stress may trigger behaviors that increase heart disease risk, such as overeating, smoking and drinking too much. When you do these activities, it can lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
Let’s look at some of the other ways stress and heart attack are related, so you can take steps to stop it.
Stress is Common
In this fast-paced and hectic world, it is common for people to feel stressed. Stress can affect your ability to perform your daily duties and strain your relationships with your family members, friends and colleagues. Although it begins as a mental or emotional problem, it can lead to the development of physical symptoms and illnesses if it is not detected and managed promptly.
How Stress and Heart Attacks Can Be Linked
Many people underestimate the impact that stress can have on the body, especially the heart. When we stress, our body reacts to protect us by releasing the hormone cortisol. Studies suggest that the high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar and blood pressure. Even minor stress can trigger heart problems like poor blood flow to the heart muscle.
Other Ways Stress Affects Your Body
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 90% of all illnesses are stress-related.
- Medical research has revealed that chronic stress can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of getting infections. Activities for reducing stress, such as relaxation, exercise and meditation, have been proven to be effective in reversing this effect of stress, giving your body better protection against diseases. Stress-reduction strategies are beneficial to your health because they increase the production of feel-good endorphins and infection-fighting T-cells in your body.
- Stress is one of the factors that cause common health problems such as headache, backache, diarrhea, sleeping difficulty and lack of sex drive. It is also known to stimulate appetite and cause weight gain, and it can lead to hair loss as well.
- Skin doctors have discovered a link between stress and many skin problems, including eczema and hives.
Decrease Your Risk For Stress and Heart Attacks
If you’re looking for ways to combat your stress and help your heart in the process, try these simple tips.
- Stay positive. Just having a good laugh can help your heart and decrease stress.
- Meditate. Meditating and deep breathing reduces heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure.
- Exercise. It releases mood-boosting chemicals called endorphins.
- Find your own stress relief. Take a bubble bath, listen to music or read a book.
You can see how working in a few changes to your daily lifestyle may significantly decrease your risk for stress and heart attack. It will also help to keep your blood pressure under control. Another way to keep your blood pressure in check is to read our free guide “Know Your Numbers: Blood Pressure.” Cheers, to a healthier you.