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Manage your stress

Stress is not always a bad thing. In fact, the right amount of stress motivates you to be alert, full of energy and focussed on your world. 1 However, too much stress or unmanaged stress, especially stress-related anger and hostility, can negatively affect your health and heart. 1 A review of studies involving 600 000 men and women has shown that individuals who have work stressors, such as job strain and long working hours, have a 10-40 % increased risk of heart attacks or strokes. 2

Adverse effects of stress on your heart 1

  • High blood pressure
  • Higher cholesterol levels and build-up of fatty plaques in the blood vessels
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Damaged blood vessels

People who are stressed often turn to harmful habits to reduce their stress. 1 These poor lifestyle choices can put them at an additional risk for heart disease and stroke. 1,3

  • Cigarette smoking 1,2
  • Overeating 1
  • Higher alcohol intake 1,2
  • Physical inactivity 2

Healthy ways to manage your stress

  • Spend quality time with friends and family
  • Regular physical exercise 1,3
  • Deep breathing exercises 1
  • Learn relaxation exercises 1,3
  • Get enough sleep 1
  • Prioritise what needs to be done 1 – make a list
  • Take a “time-out” e.g. relax in a warm bubble bath 1
  • Eat a healthy diet 1,3

References: 1. Cleveland Clinic. Stress & Heart Disease. [Online] [cited 2018 Jan 26]. Available from: URL: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/17514-stress–heart-disease/how-does-stress-affect-your-heart 2. Kivimäki M, Kawachi I. Work Stress as a Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease. Curr Cardiol Rep 2015;17:74. 3. British Heart Foundation. Stress. [Online] [cited 2018 Jan 24]. Available from: URL https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/preventing-heart-disease/stress

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