Stress and cardiovascular disease have had a long association and the relationship has been well documented by research.
We know that chronic and prolonged stress affects our health, our mental and cognitive skills and our emotions. And we also know that when you manage your stress, you can reverse the damage.
So, especially if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease, you need to learn to relax and manage the stress in your life!
Stress and Blood Pressure
When your blood pressure is too high, you are at greater risk for developing heart disease. That’s why doctors give people medications to lower their blood pressures.`
When you are feeling stressed or angry, your blood pressure increases. The amount it increases, depends on how stressed you are, or how angry you are.
However, if you stay angry for a long time, or you are constantly under stress, your blood pressure goes up and stays up. When your blood pressure is constantly higher than it should be, your blood vessels and cardiovascular system are damaged.
When your blood pressure is too high all the time, your body is always in a Fight or Flight mode. Your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive, but it never gets to rest.
Stress and Heart Rate
As your body prepares to protect itself with fight or flight responses, your heart rate increases so that blood can reach all the parts of your body where it will be needed to help you fight the threat or run away.
However, you don’t have to be threatened physically for this to occur. Your body has the very same response if you are facing an exam in college, playing a video game or speaking in front of a group of people.
When you are feeling stressed, your heart rate increases. Once in awhile this is fine. But, if your heart continues to beat too fast, your cardiovascular system can be damaged.
Your Personality and Stress
Did you know that your personality plays a part in whether you have heart disease or you don’t? Are you are the type of person who gets angry a lot and holds a grudge? Or do you tend to turn your anger inward, feeling depressed and overwhelmed?
If you react to stress in either of these two ways, you could be setting yourself up for cardiovascular trouble. Anger, hostility, depression and anxiety are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
When you respond to stress with anger, you increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, especially for a myocardial infarction, which is a heart attack. Studies show that men with a Type A behavior have a greater risk of coronary heart disease.
Your personality type and personality factors actually play a large role in how you handle stress and whether you will end up with heart disease.
How stress affects your health and well-being is determined by how you perceive stress, and how you react to the stress–your behaviors, thoughts and actions.
If this all sounds pretty ominous to you, relax. There are things that you can do to prevent cardiovascular disease. You will find that simply cutting back on your stress and learning how to handle it better, will help you feel more relaxed and calm. And you will be healthier, too!