Tuesday, July 5

Why conquering stress can help your heart

The ability to manage stress reduces the risk of developing anxiety, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

The more we learn about women's hearts, the clearer it becomes that they differ from men's. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, or broken-heart syndrome, is nine times more prevalent in women than in men. This is one of the most striking differences. It has been cited as proof that sudden emotional stress can cause death in some women.

However, unlike a heart attack, takotsubo cardiomyopathy does not involve clogged arteries. Symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is caused by an influx of stress hormones that literally distort the heart. As a result, when the main pumping chamber of the heart (the left ventricle) contracts, it swells, preventing it from effectively expelling blood into the arteries.

In September 2015, The New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study conducted by an international team of physicians from the United States and Europe on 1,750 patients with takotsubo cardiomyopathy. Similar to previous reports, ninety percent of these cases occurred in postmenopausal women in this study. The most common causes of takotsubo cardiomyopathy were lung problems and infections. The second most common trigger was emotional shock caused by grief, panic, or interpersonal conflict. Patients with takotsubo cardiomyopathy were nearly twice as likely as patients with other heart conditions to have a neurological or psychiatric disorder.

According to Dr. Thomas H. Lee, a cardiologist at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, Takutsubo cardiomyopathy is an extreme example illustrating a general truth. "There is no doubt a strong connection between the head and the heart," he asserts. Stress and the negative emotions it elicits, such as anxiety, anger, and sadness, have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease for decades.

How our feelings impact our hearts
Protect yourself from the harmful effects of persistent inflammation.
Chronic, low-grade inflammation can become a silent killer that contributes to cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions, according to scientific evidence. Experts from Harvard Medical School provide simple advice for combating inflammation and remaining healthy.

There is a growing body of research on the relationship between stress and heart health. A small amount of stress can be beneficial, as it stimulates the release of hormones that help you face adversity. These hormones increase your heart rate, muscle tone, and the brain's oxygen consumption. However, prolonged exposure to stress can contribute to a variety of conditions, including high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, anxiety, and depression.

Furthermore, stress-related health issues are frequently interrelated. Not only are anxiousness and depression risk factors for heart disease, but a heart disease diagnosis can also exacerbate emotional issues. To alleviate stress, people with anxiety or depression may engage in unhealthy behaviors such as smoking or overeating, which may also increase their cardiovascular risk.

Relieving stress
Replacing negative emotions such as anxiety, sadness, and anger with positive emotions such as happiness and contentment may be a key to better mental and cardiovascular health, but no single therapy has been demonstrated to achieve this. "We have so much to learn about how to utilize the positive effects of emotions while minimizing the negative ones," says Dr. Lee. In the interim, the following are likely to be of assistance.

The practise of mindfulness meditation.
 The practise consists of sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing, and remaining in the present moment without dwelling on the past or the future. A meta-analysis of thousands of studies published in October 2016 in JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that mindfulness meditation can alleviate psychological stresses such as anxiety, depression, and pain.

There are mountains of evidence that regular physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease, anxiety, and depression. If you're not physically active, you may want to begin with a 10-minute daily walk and work your way up to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

Social support. In times of stress and crisis, friends and family can provide emotional support that helps to sustain the individual. There is also growing evidence linking a supportive social network to a reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

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