Into each life a little stress must fall. Stress is a part of life, but left unmanaged, it can damage your body – especially your heart. Learn about the correlation between stress and heart disease.
Stress can kill you. When your body reacts to stress, it acts as if it is being threatened. Think of the “fight or flight” response. Your pupils dilate; your heart begins to race; your blood vessels dilate. More oxygen has to get to the right places so we can think clearly and run if we have to.
The same thing happens with stress. Our body goes into that “fight or flight” mode all the time. Constant unmanaged stress can lead to high blood pressure. The vessels of the body can become weakened due to that pressure which leaves them wide open to plaque formation and aneurysms later on.
Other Contributing Factors
Stress doesn’t just keep your body on high alert. When we don’t know how to manage stress, it can lead to many poor choices and bad behaviors. For one, we eat less healthy food. If you are stressed on your job and get pressed for time, you are more likely to hit the vending machine or the fast food joint down the street.
We look to comfort foods to ease the pressure. Unfortunately comfort foods are often full of fat that help expand our waistline. More fat means more cholesterol and more weight gain, both of which can increase your incidence of heart disease. And, with your vessels already weakened by chronic stress, atherosclerosis can become a reality in your life.
Smoking is another habit that increases heart disease. Most people don’t pick up smoking in adulthood but they may start again after quitting because of the stressors in their lives. Smoking decreases lung capacity. The nicotine causes blood vessels to become less elastic.
Drinking is another habit that is picked up during times of stress. Alcohol affects your liver. The liver filters the blood, processes cholesterol and triglycerides. With the liver working improperly, you can develop metabolic imbalances in the body leading to diabetes and higher cholesterol levels, all contributors to heart disease.
Managing stress is very important to overall health. The affects that stress has on your life goes beyond sleepless nights and dark circles under the eyes. The very heart that pumps life-giving blood through your body can suffer also. Find ways to lower the amount of stress in your life.
Hope you are enjoying the Healthy Heart Series.
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