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Dr. B. Hygriv Rao, Friday, October 25, 2019

Stress is an inevitable part of everyday life. However, it is proven through research across the globe that excessive, unmanaged stress can cause cardiovascular diseases. Unmanaged stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including :

  • Heart disease,
  • High blood pressure,
  • Chest pains, or
  • Irregular heartbeats.

The exact reason for stress contributing to cardiac problems is a mystery, but it can contribute to other factors that lead to cardiovascular diseases. For example, if you are under stress, your blood pressure increases, you may overeat, you may exercise less, and you may be more likely to smoke.


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.


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 like heart disease. You could also worsen an existing illness.


Research has shown stress increases your heart disease risk in these ways :

  • The more stress you endure, the higher your risk of having a heart attack and dying suddenly from a heart event.
  • Stress can cause angina (chest pain) due to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which increases demand on the heart.
  • Stress can damage the lining of artery walls (endothelium), increase cholesterol deposits to the artery wall, promote blood clotting, and release growth factors, all of which can lead to clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Stress can increase blood sugar levels if you have diabetes, which increases your risk of heart disease.
  • Sudden, severe stress can temporarily cause a serious, although usually temporary, dysfunction of your heart that mimics a heart attack. This condition is known as Broken Heart Syndrome or stress-induced cardiomyopathy.


How Can I Cope With Stress?

Everybody needs to identify the cause of stress in his or her life. After you've identified the cause of stress in your life, the next step is to learn techniques that can help you cope with stress while fighting heart disease. There are many techniques you can use to manage stress. Some of which you can learn yourself, while other techniques may require the guidance of a trained therapist.

Some common techniques for coping with stress include :

  • Eat and drink sensibly. Abusing alcohol and food may seem to reduce stress, but it actually adds to it.
  • Stop smoking. Aside from the obvious health risks of cigarettes, nicotine acts as a stimulant and brings on more stress symptoms.
  • Exercise regularly. Choose non-competitive exercise and set reasonable goals. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins.
  • Relax every day. Choose from a variety of different techniques (see below).
  • Reduce causes of stress. Many people find life is filled with too many demands and too little time. Effective time-management skills involve asking for help when appropriate, setting priorities, pacing yourself, and taking time out for yourself.
  • Get enough rest. Even with proper diet and exercise, you can't fight stress effectively without rest.



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