Your risk of heart disease increases significantly if you’re plagued by anxiety and stress. In fact, a 20-year study indicates there’s a 26 percent increased risk of developing heart problems and a 48 percent higher fatality risk from cardiovascular complications. People who suffer from anxiety disorders may have an increased risk of being diagnosed with heart disease, according to a report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Prolonged stress can wreak havoc on your cardiovascular system. There is a fair amount of circumstantial evidence that chronic emotional stress can be associated with heart disease and early death.
The emotional stress caused by a lack of a sense of control over one’s life is especially bad for us. But even more important is our response to such stress. People who can react relatively serenely to emotional stress seem to suffer no ill effects. But people who react with a teeth-clenching frustration may be increasing their risk for coronary artery disease over the long-term. Studies are underway to assess whether stress management training can reduce the increased risk imparted by emotional stress.
Elevated stress hormones increase the odds of developing heart disease.Stress causes the hypothalamus gland to release certain hormones, namely adrenaline and cortisol, by way of the adrenal glands. These hormones cause certain metabolic reactions within the body, allowing the body to prepare for a challenge. Such changes include increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased glusoce production for an increased energy supply.
Anxiety, which has a higher incidence in women in general, is problematic when superimposed on heart disease for a number of reasons. Higher levels of anxiety adversely affect physical functioning, interfere with role performance and role fulfillment, and increase risk for heart disease and its progression. Furthermore, anxiety is a significant predictor of depression in both men and women with heart disease .
It is important to develop techniques for dealing with chronic stress and anxiety. With the proper precautions, it can be reduced, warding off serious health issues that can lead to heart disease and/or stroke. Try these suggestions for decreasing your stress:
- Get enough sleep
- End unhealthy habits: smoking, drinking too much, overeating
- Reduce the causes of stress in your life by saying no to things that you don’t want or can’t do
- Exercise—- this is a great stress-buster!
- Meditate and/or seek a higher purpose
- Seek emotional counseling