Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally accounting for up to 17.9 million lives annually. People in the United Arab Emirates suffer cardiovascular attacks 20 years earlier than in other countries. At least 71% of UAE residents have at least 1 risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Heart disease refers to a range of diseases that overwhelm the heart. Obesity, lack of exercise, and smoking are some of the culprits of heart disease.
How Stress Increases Your Risk for Heart Disease
Stress is a normal part of life; however, too much stress is harmful. Stress can come from emotional distress, physical causes, or daily obligations. Your body releases cortisol hormonal stress response. High cortisol levels from long-term stress increase blood sugar, blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides; these bring changes that cause plaque buildup in your arteries.
Minor stresses can also trigger cardiovascular problems like insufficient blood flow to the heart. This is when the heart does not receive enough blood. Long-term stress impacts how blood clots; this increases the risk of stroke. Some people under pressure choose unhealthy habits like smoking, which increases the risk of heart disease.
How to Manage Stress to Promote Heart Health
Stress is a common factor in heart disease. It is necessary to take steps to manage stress to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Here are useful tips to put your mind at ease.
What Are Your Triggers?
The first step to managing stress is to identify triggers. Make a list of challenges, concerns, or situations that trigger your stress. Some are external stressors that happen to you like unpredictable events, major life changes, social, workplace, etc. Others are internal; these are thoughts and feelings that torment and cause you unrest. Changing how you deal with your triggers will help you to overcome stress. You can also talk to a trusted friend or consult a counselor from a medical center in Dubai for help.
Being physically active is one of the surest ways of maintaining a healthy heart. It strengthens the heart, helps to control weight, and fights artery damage by high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and cholesterol. Your cardiologist in Dubai will recommend exercise because it burns fat and maintains a healthy heart. You don’t need to go to the gym or be physically fit to exercise; any type of exercise is effective.
Exercise acts as a stress-reliever; it stimulates the production of endorphins (feel-good hormones). It reduces fatigue, enhances overall cognitive function, and improves concentration and alertness. Physical exercises also keep your mind away from worries.
Did you know that anxiety and depression increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases, especially if you have the condition? Long-term emotional stress or anxiety heightens the risk of sudden cardiac death. If you suffer from stress, depression, or anxiety, you can seek help from an expert. Stress can manifest physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Physical symptoms include insomnia, headaches, fatigue, body pains, stomachaches, digestive issues, and breakouts/acne. Mental symptoms include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, food and eating issues, etc. Emotional symptoms include anger, sadness, apathy, etc.
A healthy diet helps to relieve stress; it lessens the effects of stress on your body, improves mood, and lowers blood pressure. Excess sugar, fat, and junk food might be tempting when under stress, but they do not help. Certain foods like lean protein, complex carbs, and fatty acids found in nuts, eggs, meat, and fish are healthy ways to beat stress. Antioxidants are also useful; they protect the cells from damage caused by chronic stress. They are found in fruits, beans, berries, etc. Choose a healthy diet, avoid processed foods, and eat mindfully.
Lack of sleep is one of the most common side-effects of stress; if you experience sleepless nights 3 times a week for at least 3 months you might have insomnia. Lack of sleep increases stress levels; this becomes a cycle of sleeplessness and stress.
Try better sleep habits like drinking less caffeine before bed, develop a sleep schedule, try to relax, don’t use electronics at least 30 minutes before bed, etc. Your bedroom also plays a huge role in your sleep; keep it dark and clean.
Laughter is the best medicine, and although it cannot cure every ailment, it can help with stress. It boosts oxygen intake and stimulates your lungs, heart, and muscles; this increases the endorphins released in your body. Laughter also relieves stress response; this decreases your blood pressure and heart rate. It also eases pain; it stimulates the body to produce endorphins that act as natural painkillers.
Although stress is a part of life, too much is unhealthy, especially for your heart. Apart from asking for help, you can change your lifestyle and embrace healthy sleeping habits and laugh more. You need take action when you first notice the signs of stress.