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Stress And Heart Health: Managing The Silent Killer

www.womenshine.in | October 20, 2023

In today’s relentless world, stress stealthily accompanies us, casting its shadow over our everyday endeavours. Though intermittent stress is a natural part of life, its insidious impact on our health, especially our hearts, cannot be ignored. Dubbed the “silent killer,” stress transcends mere mental strain, posing a grave threat to our cardiovascular health.
A study at the University of California discovered that people with persistently high stress levels faced a daunting 27% higher risk of developing heart disease compared to those who just sailed through life. This revelation paints a vivid picture of the very real and potentially life-threatening consequences that chronic stress can have on our hearts, like a formidable, unseen adversary. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline trigger a chain reaction that leads to higher blood pressure, a racing heart, and increased inflammation—a sinister trio that, as time passes, leads to atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in our arteries—a significant precursor to heart disease.
Yet, the negative impact of stress doesn’t stop there. It often leads individuals to choose unhealthy coping mechanisms, like overeating, excessive alcohol consumption, etc. These habits increase the risk of heart disease, not only through direct effects but also indirectly by contributing to weight gain and other risk factors.

The key to preserving our hearts’ well-being is akin to finding the ultimate treasure in this narrative—a heart of gold. Effective stress management holds the map, and Dr. Elizabeth A. Stanley’s groundbreaking research at Georgetown University serves as the guide. It reveals that mindfulness training can act as a soothing balm, reducing stress levels and improving markers of heart health, all while helping us navigate through life.

A study called ‘The Framingham Heart Study, ongoing since 1948, emphasizes that social support and positive relationships act as shields against stress’s effect on the heart. Strong social connections lower the risk of heart disease, highlighting the importance of nurturing healthy relationships. Moreover, the power of regular physical activity cannot be undermined. A study in “Psychosomatic Medicine” shows that routine exercise reduces stress-related cardiovascular responses. Exercise not only eases stress but also boosts circulation and reduces inflammation, promoting overall heart health.

Drawing insights from these studies, it’s evident that mindfulness, nurturing our relationships, and consistent physical activity play vital roles in bolstering our heart health. Addressing stress is more than just enhancing our well-being. Prioritizing stress management isn’t just about well-being—it’s a critical step in safeguarding our hearts.

This article has been authored by Prof. Moulika Mandal, Faculty of Psychology, FLAME University.

(Source:- https://womenshine.in/stress-and-heart-health-managing-the-silent-killer-by-flame-university/ )