Stress can wreak havoc on your body and exacerbate chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and even erectile dysfunction. According to the American Institute of Stress, 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did five years ago.
Work stress causes 10 percent of strokes. And stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40%, heart attack by 25%, and shrinks the brain.
Here are areas where stress can be particularly damaging:
- Cardiovascular disease. “Stress can put a significant strain on the cardiovascular system,” prominent cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell tells Newsmax. “In people who have underlying heart disease, it is clear that added stress can put them at a much higher risk for an event such as a heart attack or stroke.”
- Immune response. “Stress can also make you more susceptible to infection — such as pneumonia — if you have underlying heart or lung disease,” says Campbell. “Stress can impair your body’s ability to fight infection by lowering the potency of your immune system. When you are sick, it is imperative to listen to your doctor and take the time to allow your body to recover. Remember that it takes a great deal of energy for your body to fight an infection and heal so pushing yourself in times of illness only makes matters worse.”
- Diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association stress is especially damaging because the normal flight-or-flight response that requires hormonal response doesn’t work properly. Because insulin is not always available to shoot energy into the cells, glucose build up in the blood. Both mental and physical stress can negatively affect those suffering from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
- Erectile Dysfunction. Stress and anxiety can also contribute to ED, according to Healthline. Personal and professional stress is the number one cause of ED in middle aged men. About 90 percent of teenage boys occasionally suffer from dysfunction due to psychological reasons.
- Arthritis. Research suggests that stress is a dual threat when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation trauma and stress can double the risk for developing RA. Stress can also make the disease worse according to a Dutch study, reports the foundation.
- Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers say that the link between Alzheimer’s disease and stress is inflammation, according toAlzheimers.net. Stress can cause inflammation in the brain, making it more susceptible to health problems like dementia. Stress can also lead to depression which is a known risk factor for the disease, they report.
Stress related health issues also include headaches, insomnia, frequent colds, poor digestion, back pain as well as elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, according to the American Institute of Stress. Researchers at Johns Hopkins also found that some people who are especially sensitive to stress can experience seizure-like symptoms such as far-off staring and convulsions.
Dr. Fabrizio Mancini, the internationally known best-selling author of “The Power of Self Healing,” tells Newsmax that coping with stress is a personal path.
“Remember that we all respond differently to stress,” he says. “What feels like a catastrophe to me may be small potatoes to you. But if you find that stress is impacting your health, I have a few tips to help you deal with it positively.”
- Exercise more. You may be feeling tired or even depressed, but turn off the TV and take a walk outdoors. The longer you walk the better and more energized your start to feel. Mood-lifting chemicals in your brain start to circulate. Your heart strengthens and your metabolism revs up — and these effects last for 48 hours afterward. You have begun to selfheal!
- Sleep longer. A good night’s sleep helps your body regenerate. Practice good sleep hygiene by going to bed at the same time and avoiding electronics at least an hour beforehand.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. If you are overweight, change your diet habits and lose excess pounds. Even a moderate weight loss will immediately improve your health. You may even be able to reduce your blood pressure or diabetes medication.
- Hug often. There’s power in a simple hug. Science has verified that the simple act of reaching out and hugging another person slows down the heart rate, reduces high blood pressure and even helps you recover from illness.
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