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Stress for the heart

Shyla kumar
Career life connections

Grade 11
Stress can make a huge impact on the body

Did you know eighty percent of people who are 45 years and older have

cardiovascular disease due to stress. I know that this can be true from personal experience with

my dad, since he got diagnosed with a heart disease at 49 years old. The reason as to why he had

a heart attack was due to stress, he was working himself too hard for hours upon hours every day.

"Stress does cause some people to act in ways that increase their risk for heart disease," (Dr.

Bhatt, director of the Integrated Interventional Cardiovascular Program at Brigham and Women's

Hospital). Stress is the main risk factor in major life-threatening conditions and the number one

leading cause cardiovascular disease. The link between stress and increased risk of developing

heart disease has previously focused on the lifestyle habits people take up when they feel

stressed such as smoking, drinking...and overeating, (Emily Reeve, a cardiac nurse at the British

Heart Foundation charity). Cardiovascular disease describes a big range of conditions that effect
the heart, hence the term cardiovascular. It also refers to the circulatory system which include

the blood vessels, lungs, the brain and kidneys. This disease is usually linked with the buildup of

fatty deposits inside the arteries, which is known as atherosclerosis. Issues with the heart can

have severe implications for the overall health of your body, which makes your heart ten times

more important to maintain healthy. There are six major forms of cardiovascular disease that

include certain conditions that affect the structures or functions of the heart, such as: coronary

artery disease, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, heart failure, and congenital heart disease.

The risks of these diseases have increased over the years, and has taken many lives along the

way. The best way to prevent these disorders is to learn about your heart and how to keep your

body healthy. It is very important if you want to live a healthier, more active life, which you can

achieve just by researching and educating yourself about these diseases and taking care of your

heart in the process. I will be discussing why people with higher levels of stress are more likely

to develop a cardiovascular disease. Which follows the question as to which person can handle

higher levels of stress better, older adults or teens. And lastly, I am going to research on how

stress effects the brain and mainly what happens inside your heart. Exploring the brains

management of stress and discovering why it increases the risk of heart disease will allow us to

develop new ways of managing chronic psychological stress. (Emily Reeve, a cardiac nurse at

the British Heart Foundation charity). Reading this information can help you to prevent the risks

of cardiovascular disease at an early age, which can pay off when you get older by decreasing the

possibility of diagnosing a cardiovascular disease later on in life. Fortunately, with proper

research and knowledge of these conditions, we can help prevent more people in our community

as well as around the world to decrease the occurrences of cardiovascular diseases.

Stress is a very important cause in heart conditions, and can affect behaviors, or factors

which can cause the risk of heart disease to rise. Stress can set off multiple events, and

negatively affect your health. When people are in a stressful situation thats usually upsetting but

not harmful, the body reacts by releasing adrenaline, a hormone which causes blood pressure to

rise, breathing and heart rate to speed up. The body remains in high gear off and on for days or

weeks at a time, when stress is constant (chronic). Chronic stress causes blood pressure and heart

rate to rise, which can cause the artery walls to become damaged. Chronic stress can also take a

physical toll on your body, by weakening your immune system and uncomfortable symptoms

such as headaches or stomach problems. The way you handle stress also matters. If people

respond to it in unhealthy ways, such as smoking, overeating, or not exercising that makes

matters worse. The way people handle stress also matters. During moments of high stress, the

body releases hormones such as norepinephrine, which researchers claim "can cause the

dispersal of bacterial biofilms from the walls of the arteries. This dispersal can allow plaque

deposits to suddenly break loose, there by triggering a heart attack". Stress management can be

confusing because there are three different types of stress; acute stress, episodic acute stress, and

chronic stress which all have their own characteristics, symptoms and treatments. Acute stress is

the most common form of stress in everyday life, it comes from demands or pressure of the past

and near future. Acute stress is a development of severe anxiety, dissociation, and other

symptoms that occurs within one month after exposure to an extreme traumatic situation. Some

common symptoms of acute stress include; emotion distress (anger, anxiety and depression),
problems to do with muscles (headache, back pain and jaw pain), stomach problems (heartburn,

acid stomach) and briefly over arousal which could lead to rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and

elevation in blood pressure. Episodic acute stress is for those who suffer acute stress frequently,

whose lives revolve around chaos and crisis. This type of stress is for people who take on too

much at one time, are always irritated and short tempered. Studies show that people who have

episodic acute stress are much more likely to develop coronary heart disease that people who

show an opposite pattern of behavior. The symptoms for episodic acute stress fall under; tension

headaches, migraines, hypertension, chest pain and heart disease. Chronic stress is not as

thrilling and exciting as acute stress, this type of stress breaks people down day after day and

year after year. Chronic stress destroys the body and mind over time. Some chronic stress comes

from traumatic childhood experiences that harden and remain painful and present. The worst part

about chronic disease is that people eventually forget that its even there. People are aware in an

instant when it comes to acute stress because it is new, but when it comes to chronic stress it

becomes old, familiar and sometimes comfortable. Researchers suggest that physiological factors

can contribute to cardiac risk. Challenging situations can cause stress to play a significant role in

cardiovascular symptoms and the outcomes of heart disease risks. Anger, depression and anxiety

can all cause a significant amount of stress on the heart, but stress has been documented to use

various forms that take a toll on the heart. Workplace stress is one of the most common factor for

heart conditions. Researchers defined "job strain" as a combination of demand and control within

workplaces. The amount, pace, and difficulty of the work seem to be only a few of the problems

that revolve around workplace stress. Disaster related stress has an efficiently higher risk of

triggering stress related problems for the heart. People who had high levels or stress after a

global disaster or attack where nearly twice as likely to develop high levels of stress immediately
and more than three times as likely to develop heart problems compared with those who had

lower levels of stress.

The word stress for teenagers is usually triggered by school work, tests or exams,

bullying, or problems with friends or family. Feeling low and feeling stressed are two

different things, when people are stressed they may feel sad, irritable and distracted. Stress

can affect teens emotionally and physically, though different people react differently to stress

there are a few signs you may want to keep a look out for in teens. Teens may feel tired,

weak, have trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, or eating much more than normal. They often

find it difficult to concentrate, have tight/knotty feelings in their stomach, and avoid

relationships or going out altogether. Even though teen may not have heart conditions at the

time, being stresses could cause more problems later on in life. Teens are more likely to

make bad choices such as; eating unhealthy foods, smoking and drinking too much alcohol

which could then lead to emotional and physical problems when older. We all have stress

throughout life, and it's even harder to handle when we're young. Managing our stress is not

getting easier as we age, in fact it becomes significantly harder. "We tend to have less

resilience to stress, and older adults often find that stress affects them differently now," says

Dr. Michelle Dossett, an internal and integrative medicine specialist at the Benson-Henry

Institute for Mind Body Medicine. So, what is the difference about coping with stress when

we get older? "Our cells are aging. Heart fitness and lung capacity decline, especially if

you're sedentary," says Dr. Dossett. Which keeps us from sufficiently accommodating the

body's natural stress response. Having a chronic disease already can be even harder to come

back physically from the toll that stress brings upon the body. Stress can bring on a
difference mentally as well, "Normally when we're stressed, our brains get flooded with

stress hormones, the midbrain takes over, and the front of the brainwhich controls

concentration, attention and decision-makingworks less well. Stress hormones in the brain

can also contribute to short-term memory problems that are unrelated to dementia or age-

related memory loss. Restorative sleep helps to flush stress hormones from the brain.

However, many older adults have sleep problems. Stress may make it more difficult to fall

back asleep, and the inability to clear these stress hormones from the brain during sleep

means that the cognitive effects of stress can worsen over time," says Dr. Dossett. Stress that

affects elders are the loss of loved ones, too much free time on their hands, and loss of

physical ability such as; sound, vision, balance and mobility. People may think that once you

get older it gets depressing and unhappy, but surveys say otherwise. Elders where more

physically disabled and had cognitive impairment than teens, naturally but mentally people in

their 20's reported having the highest level of stress, anxiety, depression and lower levels of

happiness and satisfaction. Elders were surprisingly happier than teens and younger adults.

As they got older, it looks like things started getting better for them, Dr.Jeste says. It

suggests that with age, theres a progressive improvement in mental health. what is so

horrible about being young? Real life begins, with lots of financial, educational, romantic

and career-oriented demands and choices, Dr.Jeste says. There is constant peer pressure:

youre looking at others and always feeling bad that youre not succeeding like some of

them, and you feel like you have lots of choices but youre not really making use of them.

Teens have a lot on their plates, what with school and balancing a job not to mention getting

closer to becoming an adult and entering the real world. Overall, teens seem to have a huge

chunk of stress they have to worry about compared to elders who have already lived their
lives and made all the hard and important choices in their life, whereas it's just beginning for


When a person is under a threat your body's stress response kicks in, once the brain

decides that there is danger. The hypothalamus, when in stress sends signals to the nerves

that travel down the spine to the adrenal glands which informs them to release the hormone

adrenaline. Adrenaline increases sugar, which in turn increases blood pressure and heart rate.

The hypothalamus also has another role, it also sends signals to the purity gland which is

located at the bottom of the brain. It releases factors that travels through the blood stream

within a few minutes to stimulate the adrenal cortex, and later produces cortisol which is a

stress hormone. Cortisol helps keep the blood pressure normal, and it is very important in

helping your stress response. Short term stress is great for the body's stress response, long

term stress on the other hand can be dangerous and damaging if it goes on for weeks. The

immune system can deteriorate and impair the memory by reducing the number of brain

cells, when cortisol levels are increased for prolonged periods. The body is more likely to

undergo a heart attack or stroke when the fats in your blood build up from a high level of

cortisol. The receptor inside many neurons can be blinded by the cortisol released in stress,

calcium is additionally accepted by the neurons through channels in their membrane. The

brain can cope with life threatening situations, when cortisol is released in short term stress.

Though when the neurons become overloaded with calcium, they fire too frequently, and in

turn die. It is established that stress can affect the brain and cause problems, but when the

brain is under a significantly large amount of stress it can sufficiently increase our heart

disease risk. A new medical study suggests calming the brain may be the key to help our
chances of diagnosing heart conditions. Physical stress is a common source of stress, but

phycological stress has been an indicator of sickness. Study's say personal stress is very

problematic to measure, but there is a risk of personal stress as an immense factor for

cardiovascular disease. "I think that this relatively vague or insufficient link reduced our

enthusiasm of taking stress seriously as an important risk factor," said Dr. Ahmed Tawakol, a

cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Cardiovascular disease is linked to

a key part of the brain that is more active during emotional and stressful situations. "Stress

plays an important role in heart attacks caused by a blockage in the heart", said Dr. Chi-Ming

Chow, a cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto and a Heart & Stroke spokesman.

Amygdala is a part of the brain that is susceptible to stress. Heightened activity in the

amygdala, has been linked previously to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, emotion

regulation and anxiety. Twenty-two participants were diagnosed with a heart condition

within 2.7-4.8 years and underwent a study to scan their brain. Researchers say that analyses

reveled that heightened activity of the amygdala increased arterial inflammation, which

heightened bone marrow activity and raised the risk for cardiovascular conditions. After

further examination, a cross section of participants showed a distinct connection between

perceived stress and heart disease risks. These studies suggest that more research and

experiments can help with the decrease of heart diseases and benefit cardiovascular health. It

has been proven that stress is a major factor that can create many problems in the body and

mind, more or so, the heart. Even though the human body can be healthy through exercise

and a wholesome diet, the heart and body can still be affected by stress. There are many ways

to help keep the stress levels in the body at bay, as well as keep the mind and body positive

and healthy. People usually turn to something that will make them feel the opposite of
stressed, some things that they may turn to are smoking, eating unhealthy foods and getting

lazy. Smoking is the cruelest step, first of all ingesting something toxic and dangerous in the

body is definitely not what you want to do. Smoking is the number one leading factor in

coronary cardiovascular disease, it damages the organs which causes them to deteriorate. The

cholesterol in the body is reduced as well as raising the blood pressure, it eventually adds

stress to the arteries. Eating unhealthily is another one of the top worst things to have a habit

of, people may think that abusing food and alcohol may reduce the stress but sadly thats not

the case. By maintaining a healthy diet, people can majorly reduce the risk of a heart disease.

Having a diet that includes raw fruit, meat, vegetable, whole grains and omega fatty 3 acids

helps with the risk. Avoiding foods and beverages that will worsen heart disease is very

difficult to do because those foods are the ones which call to us the most. These foods

include high amounts of alcohol, sugar, and salt. Watching calories is a big deal with keeping

the body and organs healthy, focusing on foods that have high nutrient values and low

calories is the best thing to help lower stress levels. The most important step to help lower

stress is exercising. Maintaining a routine of exercises and workouts becomes a vital part of

lowering blood pressure and stress levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, "experts

recommend getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, or 30 to 60 minutes of exercise

most days of the week. Exercise doesnt have to be intensive. The key is to stay active". By

taking 10-minute power strolls, people can break up the long periods of sitting which would,

if not done on a daily basis harm the heart. The good news is that having a positive outlook

can make everything beneficial. Human touch, playing with pets, and being around loved

ones can drastically help with stress. Having a beneficial lifestyle can help lower your stress

levels, which can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. People can affect their mood, by
getting enough sleep, mental alertness, energy level, and physical health. Exercising

alleviates stress, helps the body to be less depressed. Relaxing techniques can calm the body

and mind. Excellent techniques to do when you feel stressed are guided imagery, yoga, deep

breathing exercises and Meditation.

Though there are many different factors to diagnosing a cardiovascular disease, the

most deserving is stress. Stress can cause numerous problems for the body and not always

directly to the heart. It can affect the brain which can signal to other parts of the body that

will in turn send signals to the heart. Stress is a disaster waiting to happen, though many

people struggle with the causes and outcomes of stress. Researchers have found ways to help

the body cope with stress management, and they are really easy and helpful in the long run.

Not occupying a habit of smoking and drinking, having a consent healthy diet, and a

vigorous exercise is valuable for the health of the heart and intentionally the body and mind.

Some may say that it is laborious to meet the standards of keeping a healthy body, but once

people actually work hard and energetically the result will be rewarding.


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