Stress Awareness Month: How Does Stress Impact Your Health?

During National Stress Awareness Month this April, take a few minutes to consider your usual response to your stressors. Does the thought of speaking publicly make your mouth suddenly feel dry? Do you have a tendency to self-medicate your anxiety with chocolate? Poor stress management is not uncommon and it can lead to serious physical health problems, including heart trouble. The cardiology specialists at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center encourage residents throughout the Thousand Oaks area to be kind to the body and mind by practicing healthy stress management techniques.

Lifestyle Choices

Chronic stress can have indirect and direct effects on your physical health. Indirectly, stress can contribute to an overall unhealthy lifestyle. If you’re under serious stress, you may be more likely to make poor nutritional choices and avoid exercising, for instance. On the extreme end of the spectrum, some individuals try to cope with stress with alcohol, cigarettes, or dangerous recreational drugs. Stressing out about job loss or family problems can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, which in turn, places an additional burden on the body.

Immune System

Research suggests that chronic stress may adversely affect your body’s ability to fight off infections. You may be more likely to develop respiratory infections, for instance while cramming for final exams or rushing to finish a major project for work. This may be the result of reduced levels of T-cells and gamma interferon in response to stress.

Heart Health

The indirect effects of stress can contribute to heart problems. However, it is thought that stress may also affect the heart directly. More research is needed in this area, but some clinicians think that stress may increase the risk of high blood pressure . There’s even a real condition known as “broken heart syndrome” or stress-induced cardiomyopathy. Broken heart syndrome is characterized by sudden, intense chest pain that may feel like a heart attack. It occurs in response to the surge of stress hormones following a traumatic event like the death of a loved one.

There are many external factors that can contribute to poor health. If you are diagnosed with heart problems, the cardiology team at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center can offer advanced treatment solutions. Get in touch with our heart hospital in Thousand Oaks by calling (877) 888-5746; a registered nurse can refer you to our cardiology department.

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