February is Heart health awareness month. This is the third week of Love Your Heart month. Heart health and awareness should be at the top of your list. For people with CKD, believe it or not, Cardiac Disease is the top killer. I put Stress, and Hypertension together in one post because they very much go hand in hand. I won’t go into all the specifics about stress, but I will share an article that you can read for more specifics.
Stress is a very broad term, and anything can be a stressor. A stressor is a thing that causes a stress response in the body. The very top things that cause stress are everyday life matters such as money, marriage, work, illness, family, etc. For men, and Type A personalities, stress can be especially deadly to the heart. The report, that I will share, states that men who have 3 stressful life events are more likely to die from a Heart Attack. If you add smoking, HTN, and high cholesterol to the stress mix, you have a heart disaster in the making. Plus we all respond differently to stress, and some stress is a good thing, especially if it makes you make real and positive changes in your life. I am a type A personality, and over the years I have had to learn to say No, know my limits, and not allow my personality to destroy my health. My job has a lot of stress. I was just offered a promotion, and had the where with all to turn it down, as much as my Type A personality was screaming at me to do it. Knowing my limits allowed me to say no to something I know deep down will not be good for me. These are not things that come naturally but are things you can teach yourself, as I did. It took many years, of being a mother, and a nurse to make me see that my own personality was not helping me. That doesn’t mean Type B personalities don’t have stress, that is not true. We all have stress, it is how we cope with it that makes the difference. If you have no coping skills, other than anger, hostility, or self-hate, then you don’t have good coping skills, and you need to train your brain to have some. Mindfulness is the first step to reducing all stress.
So, how does stress relate to HTN? When you are stressed, remember there are many different types of stress, the body produces a rush of hormones in response to the stressor. These hormones cause your heart to beat faster, and your blood vessels to constrict, which causes a short-term rise in blood pressure. Hypertension or HTN is a long-term, or chronic, rise in blood pressure. Studies have shown that stress, that is not dealt with or allowed to build up over long periods of time, leads to chronic HTN. HTN is one of the leading risk factors for Cardiac Disease. So, learning to deal with stress, along with other healthy choices, such as diet, exercise, and cessation of smoking, can all lead to a healthier heart. For some people the only risk factor they have is stress.
I have other topics in the archives on Stress and Hypertension if you would like to learn more about ways to better cope with those issues.
My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information contained in this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advise. It is for informational purposes only and to start a conversation with yourself, your doctor, or those you love.
Read more about stress here.