Heart Health Month - Stress and your Heart
February is National Heart Health Month, and has been dedicated to heart health since 1964. It has been celebrated since its beginning as a way to educate and teach about heart disease and how it affects so many people. People wear red for Wear Red Day on February 3, red ribbons are placed on the backs of cars and in windows, and health care professionals are encouraged to talk more to their patients about the risk contributors to heart disease and how we can prevent it.
One of the main contributors to heart disease has to do with blood pressure issues, specifically high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension can be caused by many things, such as eating too much salt and processed foods, not getting enough sleep, a sedentary lifestyle, or even just genetics. Symptoms of hypertension can include double vision or blurred vision, lightheadedness, headaches, chest pain, shortness of breath, and nausea.
The continued and steady increase in your blood pressure put so much strain on your heart and even on the blood vessels leading up to your brain that the risk of heart attack and stroke is increased when you have high blood pressure issues.
It’s important to know why your blood pressure may be elevated. Sometimes, unfortunately, your genetics may cause you to have terrible blood pressure. Sometimes, however, it’s outside influences, or stresses, that can lead your blood pressure to spike.
It’s no secret that the last few years have been especially hard on everyone. Covid has caused so much fear and worry that even though now the strains are less severe, people are still wearing masks in public and scrubbing their hands raw with soap and water. Job losses and inflation have also made life difficult for many people, especially families who are supporting children or other family members. How can we provide for our families if we can’t work? All this worry and stress certainly weighs down on our minds, which in turn raises our blood pressure.
Stress can increase inflammation in your body, which in turn is linked to factors that can harm your heart, such as high blood pressure and lower “good” HDL cholesterol
But chronic stress can also affect your heart in a more indirect way. When you’re worried, you tend to sleep poorly. You’re also less likely to exercise, make healthy food choices, or watch your weight
With all of the external stressors in life, it can be hard to keep your blood pressure in check. Luckily, there are many ways to help reduce stress in our lives and lower the stress we put on our bodies. Meditation, making better food choices, getting better sleep—these are just a few of the simple things you can do to reduce your stress levels.
There are also some supplements that can help relieve your heart's burden. Magnesium is one of them—it has been shown to improve heart health and reduce blood pressure! If you're not incorporating magnesium into your daily routine, then you might want to start today. Your heart will thank you for it!
Now imagine if you had a half hour every day where you could just sit back and meditate and let your mind wander wherever it wanted to go. Well… maybe you don't have time for that right now. Maybe you'd rather spend those 30 minutes working out or watching TV or whatever else people do with their free time these days. But if you don't make time for stress relief, then guess what? You're doing damage to your heart!
Stress relief isn't just a luxury—it's an essential part of staying healthy. If we don't make time for meditation or other activities that help us relax and de-stress after a stressful day, then we run the risk of doing irreparable damage to our hearts through prolonged exposure to high blood pressure and other symptoms of stress. We're not saying that this practice needs to be as big a part of your life as eating or sleeping; but if you don't make time for it at all, then chances are good that you'll end up spending some time in the hospital after a heart attack.