STRESS AND HEART DISEASE

Connection between negativity and stress

Researchers from Emory University suggests that harboring negative feelings — such as anger, guilt and hostility — or ignoring mental health issues like depression and anxiety — can put you at high risk of coronary heart disease and possible stroke.

The study of a large mixed sex sample in the United States — showed that negative emotions and mood states caused elevated levels of C-reactive proteins, which are associated with inflammation in the body and cardiovascular disease. And, surprisingly, the effects were independent of risk factors such as smoking and being very overweight.

In other words, even if you think you are doing ‘all the right things’, if you are neglecting your mental health then you are potentially still exposing yourself to a significant risk factor.

The solution

The first option is to reduce or eliminate the causes of stress, anger, guilt, hostility, remove all the unnecessary stress from your life. The other option, then, is to change the way you react to situations that cause you to feel negative. While some would argue that making diet and lifestyle changes to enhance health is unlikely, at least eating more fruit and veg, or decreasing red meat, are easily achievable challenges.

With any lifestyle change geared towards reducing heart disease risk, such as stopping smoking or reducing weight, behavioral changes are difficult to do — and you can't expect it happen overnight. 

Who is affected?

A study suggests most postmenopausal women were most at risk from mental health-related risk factors, but research from Texas Tech University found that a stress reduction program significantly reduced anxiety in women with existing heart disease.

Whether it be meditation, yoga, journal writing - find something that helps you relieve yourself of daily worries and anxiety. ‘Attaining and sustaining good mental health is just as vital as other factors, such as exercise and diet, in the prevention of cardiovascular disease,’ concludes Dr Suarez

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