How to avoid stress-induced heart disease

February 11, 2020 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

Life can be stressful.

Bills pile up. Work deadlines beckon. Traffic can be a nightmare. Family life can get complicated.

It’s no surprise that 80 percent of respondents to a 2017 American Psychological Association survey reported feeling at least one symptom of stress within the past month. Another recent study found that people who worry about losing their job are 20 percent more likely to have heart disease.

Stress is a part of life. How you deal with it can make a difference for your health. When stress becomes excessive, it can contribute to a host of health problems including high blood pressure, inflammation, asthma or ulcers.

Though more research is needed on how stress affects heart disease, behaviors associated with stress — such as smoking, overeating, lack of sleep or inactivity — can increase your risk for heart disease.

And while it sometimes seems impossible to escape, stress doesn’t have to damage your heart or your overall health. There are steps you can take to help reduce your stress:

  • Seek professional advice. If you are experiencing stress, talk to your doctor about it and find ways to limit stress in your life. Counseling, particularly through major life changes or stressors, can also help you find ways to cope and deal with difficult situations.
  • Eat well. A healthy diet of lean protein, whole grains, fruits and vegetables provides your body the proper fuel to get through the day.
  • Get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can make stressful situations worse. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
  • Exercise. Work out some of your stress at the gym or by going for a quick walk. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity per week for good heart health.
  • Give your friends a call. Take a break from your day and enjoy a short chat with a friend.
  • Laugh. A good belly laugh can help ease stress. Make silly faces with your children, watch videos of pets or just share a joke with a friend.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Take some time each day to reflect on the positives of the day and write down some things for which you are grateful.

Personalized heart health starts here. Take a free HeartAware health assessment.

Related blogs:

Let’s dance the stress away

15 simple stress busters you can do today

6 ways to de-stress and relax in nature

Learn more from Healthy Driven Chicago:

Five ways to prevent a heart attack

10 tips for eating heart healthy

Exercises for a healthier heart


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