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Published on February 11, 2014

Under Pressure

February 11, 2014

StressStress is the body’s natural reaction to the challenges of life. In small, manageable doses, it helps motivate you, but stress that goes unchecked can have negative effects on heart health.

The body’s natural fight-or-flight reaction to stress increases hear rate and blood pressure. Those suffering from chronic stress also gravitate towards behaviors that harm the heart, such as excessive drinking, poor sleeping habits, overeating, lack of exercise, and moodiness. Chronic stress is linked to abnormal heartbeat, plaque buildup, or unstable blood vessels – problems that lead to chronic heart disease or heart attack. The bottom line: stress is bad for your heart.

Take Back Control

Stress is manageable as long as you are willing to develop the right set of skills. Becoming aware of your response is a great first step. Use that mindfulness to address and release tension, lessening the strain stress puts on your heart.

Deep breathing exercises have been shown to lower hear rate and calm agitation. Try spending a few minutes every day in a quiet place with your eyes closed, breathing deeply in through the nose for a count of seven and then releasing that breath through the mouth slowly to a count of seven. Breathe this way 10 times in a row while focusing on relaxing muscles and releasing tension.

If you’re unsure how to start reducing stress, talk with your physician about how it is affecting your life and heart health. He or she will be able to recommend different techniques or professionals to help you get stress under control. 

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