SPECIAL TO THE MERCURYHow do you react to a stressful situation? Do you shut down or lash out? Take to unhealthy habits to deal with the pressure building up inside of you?
How you handle life challenges can have a major impact on factors that have been proven to negatively impact your heart health.
Stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk, including high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating. So step back and take a deep breath — for your heart’s sake.
Bodies react to stress in different ways. You may experience a headache, back strain or even stomach pains if you’re stressed out. Your energy level can be greatly reduced and your sleeping patterns disturbed.
All of these factors can set off a chain of events that leads to a potentially compromised cardiovascular system.
When you’re stressed, your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. Depending upon how long you’re stressed, your body may experience this set of circumstances off and on for days at a time.
And although the link between stress and heart disease isn’t clearly defined by organizations like the American Heart Association, chronic stress may cause some people to depend on unhealthy lifestyle habits, like drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure and may damage artery walls.
Managing stress is a challenge, but a necessity if you hope to be a picture of good health. A few studies cited by the American Heart Association have examined how well treatment or therapies work in reducing the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease, and the results have shown positive links.
The best place to start when dealing with your stress is a qualified professional. Speak to your physician about how you’re feeling. They will be able to refer you to a specialist who can offer effective treatment or preventive strategies.