Studies show that individuals with a positive outlook on life tend to have effective coping skills, which help them make the best out of unfortunate and unexpected situations. This ability to see the ‘silver lining’ may be the key to protecting your heart in stressful situations.
Glass Half Empty
A study of patients with heart disease followed for six to 10 years found that those with pessimistic beliefs about their recovery were twice as likely to die during that timeframe as those who felt more optimistic.
Duke University Medical Center conducted psychological assessments on 2,825 patients hospitalized for heart disease.
During the study, patients were asked to describe their expectations about their ability to recover from their illness and regain a normal life. After follow up five to 10 years later, 978 of the patients died, with 66% dying of heart disease.
By Guest Blogger: Dr. John M. Kennedy, MD, FACC – Marina Del Rey Hospital
Most people know that smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are among the main risk factors for heart disease. Few of us realize that daily stress is another key risk factor. It can damage the heart and arteries even in people who are otherwise healthy.
Recent finding: A University of Southern California study that looked at 735 patients for more than 12 years found that chronic stress and anxiety were better predictors of future cardiovascular events (such as a heart attack) than other risk factors. The researchers estimate that those who reduce or stabilize their stress levels are 50% to 60% less likely to have a heart attack than those who experience increasing stress.
TOXIC OVER TIME
Researchers have known for a long time that sudden traumatic events can trigger heart problems. Three years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, for example, study participants — most of whom watched the attacks on live television — were questioned about their stress levels. Those who still were severely stressed were 53% more likely to have heart problems, and twice as likely to develop high blood pressure, as those with lower stress levels.
It appears that even “normal” stress — financial pressures or an unhappy job situation — is dangerous when it continues for a long time. It’s estimated that more than 75% of visits to primary care physicians are linked to stress-related disorders.
What happens: Chronic stress increases vascular resistance, the main cause of high blood pressure. It increases the activity of platelets, cell-like structures in blood that clump together and trigger most heart attacks. It increases levels of cortisol, adrenaline and other stress hormones that promote arterial inflammation.
Studies suggest that women who have experienced panic attacks may be at increased cardiac risk. In fact, a recent study found that postmenopausal women who experienced at least one panic attack were four times as likely to have heart disease as women who have never had a panic attack.
Symptoms of Panic:
If you suffer from panic attacks, common symptoms such as dramatic, overwhelming fear, anxiety and generalized irritability often occur and aren’t attributable to a real threat. When panic strikes, our body quickly shifts into overdrive causing a number of heightened and often uncomfortable feelings which include:
* Overwhelming sense of impending doom
* Difficulty breathing
* Palpitations and irregular heart beats
How do Panic Attacks Affect Our Heart?
Panic, stress and anxiety trigger the “fight-or-flight” response which leads to a flooding of hormones into our blood stream known as “catecholamines”. These powerful chemicals can be toxic to our heart causing decreased blood flow and making heart muscle irritable and prone to abnormal rhythms leading to palpitations. In some studies, researchers speculate that panic attacks trigger dangerous heart rhythms associated with sudden cardiac events, including heart attacks.
In our continuing quest to unlock the mysteries of workplace stress, our resident cardiologist here at StopStressingNow.Com looks at how stress at the workplace can negatively affect your heart health.
Here’s Dr. John M. Kennedy, the medical director of preventative cardiology and wellness at Marina del Rey Hospital.
Give Your Company a Much Needed Breather: 10 Ways to Reduce Stress in the Workplace
There’s a large body of literature showing how workplace stress negatively impacts employee health, and unhealthy employees can greatly affect the company bottom line. Making matters even more difficult, the current economic crisis has forced companies to lean down, which has placed a larger burden on the existing workforce.
When employees are stressed, they are less engaged, less productive, and more likely to miss days at work due to stress-related illness. Research suggests that stress weakens our immune system and increases inflammation which makes us more prone to illnesses ranging from the common cold to heart disease. In fact, some studies show that two specific types of workplace stress can take a toll on our cardiovascular system.
John M. Kennedy, M.D., is the medical director of preventative cardiology and wellness at Marina del Rey Hospital, and author of the new book, The 15 Minute Heart Cure: The Natural Way to Release Stress and Heal Your Heart in Just Minutes a Day.
He has also incorporated the BREATHE™ technique into a company wellness program, BREATHE™ For Company Wellness, which will enable companies to provide a healthy and safe alternative for employee stress release; the program features a private social media component.
Dr. Kennedy is our newest guest blogger here at StopStressingNow.Com and we couldn’t be any more excited to have him on board. I’ve read his amazing book and asked him right away to contribute his life saving knowledge with all of you for 2010.
John M. Kennedy, M.D., is the medical director of preventative cardiology and wellness at Marina del Rey Hospital, and author of the new book, THE 15-MINUTE HEART CURE: The Natural Way to Release Stress And Heal Your Heart In Just Minutes A Day. He has also incorporated the BREATHE™ technique into a company wellness program, BREATHE™ For Company Wellness, which will enable companies to provide a healthy and safe alternative for employee stress release; the program features a private social media component. Dr. Kennedy is our newest guest blogger here at StopStressingNow.Com and we couldn’t be any more excited to have him on board. I’ve read his amazing book and asked him right away to contribute his life saving knowledge with all of you.