Stress is a Major Factor Leading to Heart Disease

Taking Steps to Manage Your Stress Can Have Many Health Benefits, Including Lowering Chances of Heart Attacks and Stroke
Published on Feb 6, 2024

It’s important to understand the importance of caring for one’s heart by taking steps to reduce stress in your life to diminish the risk of heart disease.

There’s no doubt that many people today are struggling with keeping stress under control as they struggle to make ends meet, are concerned about world events, or are watching political discourse in a presidential year that some have labeled as the most consequential in recent times.

Although experiencing stress from time-to-time is normal and, in some cases, can actually be helpful as a motivational factor, too much stress and not being able to manage it appropriately is harmful and can lead to heart disease.

With February being American Heart Month, it’s important to understand the importance of caring for one’s heart by taking steps to reduce stress in your life to diminish the risk of heart disease.

“That’s critically important considering that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease,” said Dr. Ravi Jandhyala, a cardiologist with Kaiser Permanente Southern California. “Additionally, about 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year – that is 1 in every 4 deaths.”

Dr. Jandhyala noted that if you experience stress symptoms consistently, taking steps to manage your stress will result in invaluable health benefits. Ignoring symptoms, however, can lead to heart ailments, which, in some cases can lead to death.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if your life is full of stress, consider the following stress management tips:

• Get regular physical activity on most days of the week.
• Practice relaxation techniques. Try deep breathing techniques like slower breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi or a body massage.
• Keep a sense of humor.
• Spend time with family and friends.
• Set aside time for hobbies. Read a book, listen to music or go for a walk. Schedule time for your passions.
• Write in a journal.
• Get enough (restful) sleep.
• Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
• Stay away from tobacco and alcohol use and the use of illegal substances.

According to the American Heart Association, stress may contribute to poor health behaviors linked to increased risk for heart disease and stroke, such as:

• Smoking
• Overeating
• Lack of physical activity
• Unhealthy diet
• Being overweight
• Not taking medications as prescribed

“If you lessen and manage stress in your life, which will be good for your health and well-being and reduce your chances of being diagnosed with heart disease,” said Dr. Jandhyala, who practices in Orange County. “Studies show that stress and reduced psychological health, as well as mental health, are associated with a rise in heart disease and stroke. Reducing stress in your life will lead to a lower risk of heart disease and death.”

Kaiser Permanente offers valuable information on how to manage stress in your life.

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