Stress and the impact on heart health
We just read a fantastic , and quite alarming, article written by a leading Medical Journal about our heart and how it is impacted by stress.
Stress and the risk of a heart attack, or cardio vascular disease is a subject close to my heart. Massage Therapy and Aromatherapy are good stress reducers. I see many people who are dealing with high levels of stress. Many of my Clients have had issues with their cardiovascular system. So many of my Clients are subjected to long periods of stress. As a Massage Therapist, I am well aware of the fact that stress can release bad cholesterol in to the blood stream. The pains we feel in the chest during long stressful periods, can in fact be linked to the blood vessels constricting; probably due to our fight or flight mechanism, but none-the-less being in a constant state of high adrenaline is wearing on the body and leaves it very confused. When we are constantly stressed, we can not sleep well, we tend to drop exercise as we are too exhausted, or we exercise and feel even more exhausted, we stop eating so well, we can not relax effectively, all our worries seem worse, our body is in a constant state of red alert and we let go of the support systems that can help us ease the burden of our stress.
Over the years I have had more than my fair share of stress. I have even witnessed heart related issues within my family. There seems to be pattern linked to cardiovascular disease; the common pattern of elevated blood pressure, a reduction in stamina and heart rhythm alterations. I have often wondered why? Could it be due to bad genetics? Poor diets? Perhaps a lack of exercise? I have often pondered this question and now I have the answer. We are all great thinkers, or should I say worriers. We tend to worry about situations that we often have little control over. There have also been prolonged periods of stress in our lives. This can be quite a subjective issue and I believe that there are gender differences in how we perceive and deal with stress.
I was most intrigued to find this article about stress click here and new evidence to link it with an increased risk of an heart attack. There was a study by a Harvard Medical School team of nearly 300 participants. Their amygdala activity was monitored. In the patients with higher activity in the amygdala, they were shown to be more at risk of developing heart disease. The amygdala processes fear and anger emotions. Heart attack risk factors were thought to be increased by the usual culprits of smoking and elevated blood pressure. The study now added a new factor to that list, stress. Stress including emotional stress. Chronic stress can be induced through over work, living in poverty, work-related issues and so on. Emotional stress affects the cardiovascular system by affecting the heart and the blood vessels.
The Lancet Medical Journal studied 293 people over 4 years. 22 of these people developed cardiovascular disease. All of these people showed higher activity in the amygdala. Those that reported higher levels of stress in their lives, had higher levels of activity in the amygdala and more inflammation in their blood and arteries.
If stress can be reduced however, there is a lower chance of cardiovascular disease developing - that is now a fact. How can we reduce our levels of stress? We can have Massage Therapy, develop a regular exercise regime, take up meditation, spend time outdoors, find a good non-judgmental listening ear when we have issues and make lifestyle changes. Eat natural foods, drink less or avoid alcohol, make work less stressful, get your finances in order, associate with friends that are good for you, get enough sleep and keep healthy relationships. Aside from all of this tips, I guess we need to adopt a bit of a lighter attitude towards life too!
va Evangelou, BA Hons, PGCE, Adv Diploma, ITEC & IFA Dips, is the UK Qualified Sports Massage Therapist behind Limassol Sports Massage. Being a Qualified Sports Massage Therapist has given her extensive training and experience in Injury Prevention, the Theory of Training and Injury Rehabilitation. She has been a Body Worker since 2004. Eva has run 3 full Marathons including Nicosia, Rome and the Limassol Marathon. She is usually injury free and believes that prevention via education is better than cure. She is the Author behind 'Say No! To Neck and Shoulder Pain' and she is a Qualified Teacher. Learn more about her by clicking here and contact her via email by clicking here.
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Sports Massage Therapist, Wellness Advocate, Sports Enthusiast, Teacher, Nutritarian, Blogger, Artist and much more...