Stress and Your Heart

How heart healthy is your stress level?

Dr. Taglio is here to share more wellness tips, this month with an emphasis on preventing cardiac disease.

Stress has an enormous impact on your health and can lead to poor health and early death. Recent research shows the risk of heart attack or stroke is increased by stress, as it causes over-activity of the brain’s fear center (the amygdala), causing arterial inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease.

Many people living in the modern world are constantly activating their biological stress centers in response to events that are not life-threatening and find it difficult to turn this stress response off. Chronic stress can have serious health consequences including high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, and fat accumulation, due to high cortisol levels. (Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”).

Emotions can have a big impact on heart health, even if you don’t have heart disease. In 1997, cardiologist Lauri Toivonen and colleagues conducted a study that showed EKG changes in healthy physicians before and during the first 30 seconds of an emergency call. The changes indicated oxygen deprivation and abnormal heart rhythms. Recent studies have shown these same changes with stress, anxiety, and depression.

If you are used to living with stress daily, you may have gotten so used to it that you don’t even realize you are stressed anymore! Stress can manifest in many different ways, including:

  • Excessive tiredness
  • Insomnia, trouble sleeping, falling asleep
  • Impatience, short-tempered or being quick to anger
  • Lack of appetite, overeating, binge drinking
  • Feeling overwhelmed, irritable, sad
  • Frequent crying or quick to tears
  • Headaches or general body aches

Let’s talk about simple ways to manage stress and counter the stress response.

Get Regular Exercise. Regular physical exercise will help you manage your stress level and help protect your heart and brain. Studies have demonstrated that exercise can help you mentally, by helping you think faster and more flexible. It also increases blood circulation to the brain and can improve the brain’s ability to react to stress. Exercise also improves overall psychological well-being and reduces anxiety and depression and elevates self-esteem.

Breathe. Diaphragmatic or deep breathing techniques will help lower your stress levels.

Make more time for yourself and the things you love. Listen to music, make time for your hobbies or enjoy other activities that will relax you.

Make a list of the important things you need to handle each day, prioritizing them in order of importance. This will help you visualize, organize your tasks, and stay focused. Try to stay on top of this list to help you feel a sense of accomplishment and mastery.

Learn to say “no” to things that may throw your life more out of balance and create more stress.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol, smoking, binge eating, junk food or drugs that help you manage your stress in unhealthy ways. These are short term solutions that will manifest into bigger problems that will ultimately contribute to more stress.

Seek professional help. Do not ignore the signs of anxiety, depression, chronic stress, anger, or feelings of being overwhelmed. Allow a professional to help you learn how to reduce the symptoms of stress, to protect your brain and heart from harm.

Massage therapy. Schedule this into your monthly routine–as a necessity, not a luxury. Massage has direct effects on lowering stress hormones, improving mood and sleep quality.

Chiropractic adjustments. Recent research shows that adjustments help relieve stress. Salivary cortisol levels, a measure of stress, decreased over a 5 week adjustment period. While research is still being gathered, it appears that Chiropractic care helps create hormonal balance and a healthy and well-adjusted spine is one key to effectively managing stress.

Create a stress management plan that works for you, incorporating many different stress-relieving activities throughout your week, to protect your mental well being, your health, and your heart.

As a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improve the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.

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