Stress... The Silent Killer?
Stress is something that probably affects us all from time to time and can often be very difficult to cope with. Sometimes we can end up eating unhealthy food, avoiding exercise, and drinking to excess, potentially increasing the risk to our health and general wellbeing.
Try to establish a regular routine of healthy eating, exercise and relaxation. It can help you to progress and feel.
According to the British Heart Foundation, stress is not a direct risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but it's possible that it may contribute to your risk level. It all depends on how you cope with it.
Some people when stressed decide to do silly things to make them feel better like starting to smoke, getting drunk or eating too much. Unfortunately any positive effects are likely to soon be forgotten and all of these actions can increase your risk of ill health and particularly cardiovascular disease.
Whilst there is no evidence to suggest that stress causes coronary heart disease or heart attacks, if you already have coronary heart disease and experience feelings of anxiety or are under lots of stress, it may bring on symptoms like angina.
How can I help myself?
It’s mostly common sense, but changing your lifestyle in a positive way can help you feel more able to cope with some of the demands put on you. Eating properly and exercising regularly should help you cope better with stress and of course you need to learn how to relax.
My old mum used to say that relaxation is an art - and I confess that as a youngster I didn’t really know what she meant, but now I understand. It’s hard to relax when there are always a million things to do, so relaxation definitely needs practice.
Some people find that physical activity, yoga or other relaxation techniques can help. You could make a list of things that you find help you to relax and plan to do something from the list every day.
You may need to identify situations that make you feel stressed at home or at work and try to avoid them if you can.
You could also learn techniques for managing stress. If you think you are stressed or very anxious, talk to your GP who will be able to help you decide on the best way to deal with it.
Everyday life brings with it challenges and unexpected events. These situations can sometimes be described as stressful. Most of us have experienced a level of stress at some time or other in our lives and how you cope with it can affect other things in your life, such as relationships as well as your general wellbeing.
Stress reaction gene linked to heart attacks
A genetic trait known to make people sensitive to stress also appears to be responsible for an increased risk of heart attack or death in heart patients, according to The BHF.
In a study of more than 6,100 heart patients, researchers focused on a genetic variation that causes a hyperactive reaction to stress.
Patients with the genetic variation had the highest rates of heart attacks and deaths. Even adjusting for age, obesity, smoking history and other risk factors, the genetic trait was associated with an increased heart risk.
What else can I do?
If you’re starting a new activity or getting back into something you haven’t done for a while, set yourself realistic goals. Be easy on yourself and don’t try to achieve everything at once.
Some people find complementary therapies like yoga or aromatherapy helpful, but it’s wise to check with your GP or pharmacist before you start something new.
If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a friend or a partner, or ask your GP for advice. Feeling isolated can add to your difficult feelings.
How can I tell when I need more help?
The first thing to realise is that you're not alone. Anxiety and depression are not unusual reactions to trauma or illness.
Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s part of taking charge of your wellbeing and doing what’s right for you.
Statistics and research information provided by the British Heart Foundation.