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Impact of Stress on the Heart

How do you react when your boss at work gives you an unrealistic target or a deadline? Does your heart start beat faster? Do you start breathing heavily when you’re stuck in the traffic and you have a flight to catch? Do you feel like getting a heart attack when your exam nears? Or, do you stay calm and deal the situation? Life is not hunky dory for anyone and we all are exposed to a wide variety of stress in our day-to-day life. However, we don’t react to stress in the same way. While some of us get stressed out easily, some can stay cool and deal with the matter. Stress is natural, in which the body releases a series of chemical to help fight the situation. In fact, the right amount of stress helps you stay focused but the reaction towards stress is different. How we are addressing stress can affect our health. From hypertension to asthma, stress can lead to different health conditions.

Stress and the heart

Apart from affecting mental health, stress also has a direct impact on the heart. There are quite a few cases of getting a heart attack after listening to extremely stressful news even though the person may not have any prior heart disorders. This is often known as ‘broken heart syndrome’. However, it can result only from acute stress and not day-to-day stress.

Stress in daily life is not uncommon. If regularly exposed to stress, some individual may resort to coping behaviours which can affect their heart in the long run. For example, many people often indulge in excessive smoking, drinking or bingeing on comfort food to deal with their stress. This can lead to hypertension, obesity and high cholesterol leading to poor heart health.

Managing stress for better heart health

Here is some good news. You can manage your stress and improve your heart health. However, you need to be committed and keep practicing it every time. Here are some tips to help you manage your stress.

Maintain positivity

Keep yourself surrounded by positivity. Having a good laugh every day, not only helps you stay positive, but it also helps to keep your stress hormones at bay. It also helps to reduce the inflammation in the arteries, if any.

Disconnect

If stress is overwhelming you, then disconnect from it. Stay away from emails, phone calls or anything else that is creating stress for you. Unplug and give yourself some time to unwind. Help the mind to relax and calm down. Read a book, listen to some soulful music, or take a swim. Stress can also lead to fluctuations in the blood sugar level and blood pressure which can have an adverse effect on the heart vessels.

Exercising is the key

No matter how cliché it may sound, you need to exercise daily. Whether you prefer walking or playing a sport, exercising keeps away your stress level by releasing the ‘happy hormones’ endorphins. In addition to that, exercising also helps to a great deal in managing health conditions like hypertension, overweight, blood sugar, and cholesterol which may have a direct effect on your heart.

Yoga helps

Practice yoga or meditation. It’s a great way to calm down the restless mind and gain inner peace. Since yoga is less strenuous, it can be safely practiced even if you have an existing health condition. However, do consult with your doctor before starting. Yoga helps to reduce the stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol and helps you sleep better.

Other things that you can do to manage your stress

Stay connected to your loved ones. Talk to your family if you are finding it difficult to manage your stress level. If needed, seek medical consultation. Accept that you can't control everything in our life. Take it as it comes and let it go when needed. Stay healthy stay fit…

Hope is Healing, Healing is Happiness

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Asian Heart Institute

G / N Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra (E),
Mumbai 400 051, Maharashtra, INDIA.

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