February is National Heart Health Month.
With Valentine’s day nestled in the middle of the month, images of heart shaped tokens of love are everywhere. From the infamous heart-shaped box of chocolates, to heart shaped jewelry and special greeting cards, many people will be giving and receiving symbols of love this month. It’s no coincidence that the heart is the universal symbol of love, emotion and affection.
Physiologically, the heart is the ultimate connection between mind and body. It represents the very engine of life. Now, heart health is intimately intertwined with mental and emotional health. Therefore emotional stress can significantly affect the heart. “You almost gave me a heart attack!” Can emotional stress really cause heart attacks or even worse, lead to death? Researchers from the Psychophysiological Investigations of Myocardial Ischemia (PIMI) study set out to examine that very question. Mental stress has long been associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and its complications. Their research has demonstrated a greater than 2- fold increase in subsequent cardiac events, such as heart attack, in those who suffer from heart dysfunction in the setting of mental stress.
Chronic mental stress characterized by depression, lack of social support, or hostility have all been tied to an increased rate of heart disease. Heart disease comes in many forms and is the number one cause of death in the United States. The most common cause of heart disease is coronary artery disease (the narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart). Chronic stress and anxiety can often have cardiovascular symptoms such as increased heart rate, palpations and increased blood pressure. It is extremely important to minimize the effect of stress on your heart over time.
A possible solution
Unhealthy lifestyles increase the burden of coronary heart disease. In addition to hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, and consuming an unhealthy diet are also significant risk factors for CHD. Lifestyle modification is an essential population-based strategy for the prevention of CHD through risk factor reduction. In particular, lifestyle interventions have been shown to reduce blood pressure in pre-hypertensive and hypertensive individuals.
At The Lifestyle Clinic, we offer a collaborative, holistic approach to heart health. With alternative stress management techniques, and whole body nutritional support, our goal is to help your body deal with physiological and mental stress more efficiently. This way, the impact of stress on your heart may be reduced.