Stress and the Cardiovasular System
Stress and the cardiovascular system has been the butt of jokes for many years. When someone makes an individual upset, they feign having a heart attack or hold their heads because of an incoming fake migraine. Who could forget Fred Sanford from the TV show, Sanford & Son, having “the big one” and saying “here I come ‘Lizabeth” each time his son or friends “stress” him out! Stress indeed brings on the heart attacks, strokes, and migraines. In fact, stress has been found to be the root causes of chronic diseases effecting the heart, lungs, brain, respiratory to name a few. Stress has also been linked to cancer. Why is stress such a blind-sided component in chronic diseases to the average person?
The cardiovascular system has long been linked to stress both emotional and psychological in that heart disease and stroke are widely common among Americans. However, when it comes to the CVD system, the main culprit seems to be a high fat, high acidic diet and lack of exercise but stress either is initially blamed or stand in the shadows only to be blamed secondarily. Along with elevated cholesterol and triglycerides levels stress causes elevated blood pressure levels and increases heart rate which in turn causes heart attacks and strokes.
Stress is the body’s response to adverse situations, threats, and the inability to adapt. At the point of feeling stressed, due to the release of adrenaline, we have the chance to “fight or flight.” If, when confronted with a stressful situation, for instance, a job, that you are unhappy with and you cannot function properly, you may get stressed over the inability to do the job and/or be content. We all handle small stresses but ongoing stress put undue pressure on the body, mind, spirit, and soul. Major episodes of stress-related events, for instance, wars and disasters, wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system sometimes to the point of death. Here are some of the symptoms of stress:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
- Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
- Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
- Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
- Avoiding others
- Low energy
- Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
- Aches, pains, and tense muscles
- Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
- Frequent colds and infections
- Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
- Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet
- Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
- Clenched jaw and grinding teeth www.webmd.com
The effects of stress on an ongoing basis can bring on depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, and sexual dysfunctions. Depending on the level of stress, physical effects of stress adversely affects the cardiovascular system and the body.
What can we do to combat stress so that we do not fall victim to cardiovascular diseases and other chronic diseases? Diet and exercise has been found to remedy or combat CVD. Sometimes the effects of stress have already set in and medication is needed to correct further damage. Making a conscious decision to avoid stressful situations and people is key in fighting stress-related chronic diseases. It may be difficult at times but it is needed.
A change in diet is important. According to WebMd, some of the things you can do with your diet: stay away from caffeine because the caffeine increases stress hormones. Eat breakfast each day to avoid consuming unhealthy foods which in turn increases stress levels. Eat more fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, lean meats, and eat smaller meals during the day.
Exercise regularly. Exercising has been found to reduce stress levels. Exercising gets the heart pumping, puts more air in the lungs, and clears your head. Elaborate exercising is not needed, simple techniques in exercising like walking will do.
Life is stressful enough with or without situations that arise that make it even more stressful. If you start eliminating the key factors in your life that increases stress levels, correct your diet and take on a regular exercise routine, in time, stress can be manage successfully and you can enjoy a long and healthy life.