Stress has been linked to a number of negative health effects such sleeplessness, poor memory, and even poor appetite. Among the more serious health concerns it’s been associated with is heart health. A recent analysis of multiple studies found that people with higher stress had a higher risk of developing cardiovascular health challenges. Participants were asked questions such as “How stressed do you feel?” or “How often are you stressed?” Those who scored higher (i.e. those who felt very stressed and were stressed often) had a 27% increase in cardio health risks.
Stress Almost As Bad As Smoking
In their paper, published in the American Journal of Cardiology, Columbia University Medical Center researchers looked at six different studies that involved nearly 120,000 participants over a 14-year period. Their data indicated that the detrimental effects of stress were nearly as bad as smoking more than five cigarettes a day. Stress not only wears down a person emotionally; it can also raise blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels. Elevated blood pressure forces your heart to work harder to circulate blood throughout your body while LDL cholesterol can narrow blood vessels, which also hinders circulation.
Risk Increases with Age
While gender didn’t appear to be a factor in who was more likely to be affected by stress, age did. Among the people who had higher stress levels, the older they were the greater their risk of heart health challenges. Researchers speculated that this was because these individuals may have been living with stress longer, so it had more long-term effects to their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The mind can have a great influence over the body and how you feel about yourself can affect how you feel physically. If stress is getting to you, find a means to deal with it sooner rather than later so that the effects don’t lead up to negative consequences. Take up a new hobby, socialize with friends, and most important of all: relax.
- Hodgekiss A. Being stressed is as damaging for your heart as smoking five cigarettes a day. Daily Mail. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2250106/Stress-bad-heart-smoking-cigarettes-day.html
- Perceived Stress May Predict Future Coronary Heart Disease Risk. Science Daily. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121217121413.htm