Can Women Protect Their Hearts From Stress?

Regardless of your job description, any job can be stressful. Unfortunately, most people don’t take enough time or proper measures to combat the negative side effects increased stress can have on the body.

In a recent study from Harvard Medical School, researchers uncovered a strong link between a woman’s job stress and cardiovascular disease. Their findings show that for women with high-stress jobs, there is a 40% greater possibility that these same women will suffer heart disease at some point in the future. The main culprit? The body’s own built in fight or flight mechanism.

The body is programmed to react to life-threatening stress (“The house is on fire!”) with a “fight-or-flight” response, in which the brain triggers a cascade of chemicals and hormones that speed the heart rate, quicken breathing, increase blood pressure, and boost the amount of energy (sugar) supplied to muscles. Unfortunately, the body does a poor job of discriminating between grave, imminent dangers and less momentous ongoing sources of stress, such as financial difficulties, job strain, and even worries about potential problems that haven’t yet arisen. When the fight-or-flight response is chronically in the “on” position, the body suffers.

So the question remains, how to protect your heart from stress? According to the same study, possible solutions include positive relationships, exercise, and relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, progressive relaxation, and visualization.

Read more about this Harvard study here.

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