Is Stress Putting You at Risk of Heart Attack?
It’s football season once again, and no, that alone doesn’t make you at a higher risk for experiencing a heart attack, but in fact anything that triggers a heightened emotional response can set off a cardiac issue, including excitement, fear and frustration. So, if you hear about a big time sports fan having chest pain or even go into cardiac arrest when his team loses, it could be more than folklore.
However, it’s quite unlikely anyone will actually die from being a heavy sports fan and losing their cool over a win or loss; your ability for your heart to handle stress, any stress, is predicated on your underlying health condition, and whether you have heart disease that will predispose you for a cardiac event such as a heart attack or cardiomyopathy.
Here’s how this works…
Stress cardiomyopathy is caused by feelings of intense physical or emotional stress. This can lead to a rapid weakening of the heart muscle. Often triggered by an adrenaline surge that accompanies our body’s fight-or-flight stress response system.
People who don’t have an underlying heart condition can even experience cardiomyopathy, which can be triggered by a number of stressors. For example, fear, extreme anger and grief are normal emotional responses to stress, and usually the heart weathers the effects of stress very well. Occasionally, however, sudden death caused by extreme stress as happened.
This is the adrenaline pumping response our bodies have to extreme stress, which causes a series of physical changes, including this surge of hormones, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and a diminished immune system and digestive system to reserve energy for fighting or fleeing. This can affect the heart’s electrical system and therefore potentially causing arrhythmias, or heart spasms that can diminish heart functioning.
Headlines Report Game-related Heart Attack
Especially if someone already has risk factors or heart disease, it is possible for them to trigger a heart attack when having intense emotions related to a sporting event. E.g. “When a 69-year-old Brazilian soccer fan attending a hotly contested World Cup match between Brazil and Chile suffered a fatal heart attack earlier this year, the tragic event grabbed international headlines. It was later reported that the man suffered from hypertension and diabetes, both known cardiac risk factors.”
What to Do?
There are many natural ways to avoid stress or deal with it if you’re experiencing stress.
Let’s first discuss avoiding stress.
Your actions today have consequences down the road. For example, if you smoke, there’s a fairly good chance that years from now you’ll be visiting the doctors office on a regular basis. If you stay in a bad relationship without working on it, chances are you will break up. Many of us are in stressful situations and don’t realize it. We’re like the lobster in the pot of cold water that doesn’t realize it’s getting cooked because the water is heating up slowly. You must assess your situation and decide what is causing stress in your life. Then, you must figure out a way to either get out of that situation or learn how to cope in a more productive way.
In a nutshell, you can avoid stress by staying away from people or events that cause you stress. Oftentimes however just changing your viewpoint can help you avoid stress. For instance; someone texting in a car slowly goes off the road and hits a guardrail; they’re not injured, but they begin to scream and get very stressed because they just caused hundreds of dollars in damage to their car, not to mention the guardrail. If they stop and think for a minute, this was a blessing in disguise because if they really assess the situation, they will come to the conclusion that they were responsible. By being responsible, you can avoid it in the future; in other words, don’t text and drive. A sense of calm can actually occur as you shift your thinking from being a victim, to being at cause.
Tips to Help Reduce Stress
- Exercise: Studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce stress.
- Meditate: There are many books and tapes about meditation. The secret is to find something you like and stick with it. Regular meditation can help you learn how to relax.
- Natural Relaxant: A natural relaxant to help support you during times of stress is usually better than taking a medication. Try and use one that contains Valerian and Passionflower – 2 ingredients proven to be effective for stress.
- Read Spiritual Books: Books such as Power of Kabbalah can help you get in touch with your true self which is calm, non-reactive and at peace.
A combination of one or all the above tips can help you learn how to, not only cope with stressors as they occur, but also to prevent your knee-jerk reaction to the stress. A calmer life is waiting for you.