Heart & Vascular Program

Heart Health

Risk Factors: Stress

Stress can have a positive influence in our lives because it can help us concentrate, focus and perform so that we reach peak efficiency. Many people perform better under pressure. However, when stress generates a negative response, you need to re-evaluate the situation. When stress becomes ongoing, your health can suffer. Negative stress can be associated with many physical ailments from tension headaches to heart attacks.

The good news is that you can learn to manage the stress in your life and feel fulfilled at the same time. One of the best ways of managing stress is regular physical activity. For example, you may take a 30 minute walk five times per week. Exercise allows you to clear you mind and gives you a chance to plan and re-evaluate situations that contribute to a stressful lifestyle.

Although stress is a fact of life, it does not have to be your way of life! The first step to managing negative stress is to become aware of the triggers that cause this stress and learn to be pro-active rather than reactive in these situations. It is often the response to a stressful situation that is more harmful than the stress itself. The negative response of anger and frustration can increase blood pressure and heart rate and long-term negative stress can raise cholesterol levels. If you look at these physical responses, you can see why stress is linked with heart disease.