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Heart attacks and stress, the growing concern

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seesaw with heart and brain, 3d illustration


Sibgat Fatima

Heart attacks or Myocardial infarction (MI) a common medical condition occurring due to cessation of blood flow to the heart usually because of the accumulation of fat and cholesterol in blood vessels resulting in chest pain (angina), shortness of breath, heart burn, cold sweats, dizziness, and fatigue, generally varying from patient to patient. But, beyond this physiological condition of fat and cholesterol build-up the growing stress levels in present day social scenario is becoming a major threat to these heart maladies.

Persistent stress due to various personal or professional issues in a person can have strong repercussions on the heart health and very often people underrate it. Stress ranges from acute to chronic levels like family illness, ongoing life struggles, unemployment, divorces, death of a loved one etc. It is said the lifespan of an individual can decrease by three to five years and the aging by ten to fifteen years due to chronic stress. Usually when a person goes through stacks of stressful situations he/she is very prone to develop severe heart diseases or hypertension like issues. The linkage between stress and our heart sometimes manifests into a grave medical condition known as Broken Heart Syndrome resulting in dysfunctioning of the muscles of heart as such awful conditions give rise to release of Stress hormones (catecholamine’s) that in turn trigger the cardiac muscles to contract vigorously rather in a normal steady manner.

 

Different people show different responses to stress depending upon the level of coping or defence mechanisms a person uses. Some are unconcerned and relaxed while others may show intense emotional or physiological reactions as well but a person can try to manage the effect of stress on his body. Helping yourself to manage stress and keeping heart healthy:

  • A 30 to 40 min daily exercise ameliorates the heart well-being and keeps a check on body weight, cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Exercise also lessens the physical responses of body to stress by producing Endorphins, the chemicals in brain acting as painkillers and enhancing the ability to sleep and bring down the stress levels.
  • A proper balanced diet can level the mood. Lower the consumption of caffeine as there are different thresholds for people in tolerating it.
  • Try to keep yourself engaged with the things you love to do like hobbies of reading a book, writing, cooking etc.
  • Develop a strong support system like good family relations, a trustworthy friend circle, someone you can talk or share your problems. Lack of support may increase the possibility of getting into smoking, drinking alcohol and even drug abuse.
  • Seeking medical help for constant anxiety or depression is also important to minimize the chances of sudden cardiac death.

There are several more ways for reducing the anxiety and pressure levels which people go through on everyday basis. We just need to monitor our health consistently and cope with the increasing stress levels on our body.  So, let us keep our hearts healthy.

The writer is Sibgat Fatima, MSc. Obstetrics & Gynaecology (N). Working as a Teacher at SAMAGRA. Feedback at [email protected]