This year we can all make a promise, to ourselves and those we care about, to look after our hearts. Read on for holistic heart tips and learn how stress could be affecting your heart – and what to do about it.
How Stress Could Be Affecting Your Heart
Everyone deals with stress. But when life’s strains are intense or prolonged, your heart could suffer in physiological ways.
“Many studies suggest that emotional stress is hard on your health — raising blood pressure and heart rate, for example,” says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Erin Michos, M.D. When stress becomes chronic, so do the physical effects. Over time, this can damage the heart.
Certain relationship situations are more likely to set the stage for chronic stress, such as: being in a caregiver role, struggling to balance work and family, losing a loved one, living in an unhappy marriage or going through a divorce.
“Some recent research shows that the effects of emotional stress may be more pronounced in women,” says Michos. For example, a 2015 study of heart attack survivors, reported in the journal Circulation, found that women had significantly higher levels of psychological stress than men, and this may explain why they also had poorer recoveries.
So, what can we do about managing stress? Find the method that works best for you and gives you lasting results.
Managing stress is not just good for heart health – but overall wellbeing.
According to the American Heart Association, some ways to cope with stress include: exercising, maintaining a healthy diet and weight, and engaging in relaxation or stress-management techniques. Other helpful strategies include yoga, meditation and a support system of friends and family members you can talk to and enjoy. If stress ever escalates to anxiety, however, it might be time to talk with your doctor about a treatment plan that’s right for you.
13 Heart-Smart Tips
“Are Your Relationships Putting Your Heart At Risk?” Johns Hopkins Medicine, hopkinsmedicine.org, Aug. 5, 2019.
“Stress and Heart Health,” heart.org, April 17, 2018.
“5 Things to Do Every Day to Keep Your Heart Healthy,” health.clevelandclinic.org, Feb. 5, 2019.