- Mind Over Matter
- 5 Months ago
Really? Constant Stress Makes You Sick
If you believe stress is affecting your health, you are probably right, a new study concludes, and that perception may increase your risk for heart disease. Researchers studied 7,268 men and women, average age 50 at the start of the project, using periodic questionnaires. There were 352 heart attacks or deaths from coronary disease over the 18 years of the study. The participants rated the effect of stress on their health — none, a little, or a lot — and then researchers controlled for more than 20 variables, including actual stress as measured by psychological tests. The study was published online in The European Heart Journal. Those who said that stress affected their health “a lot or extremely” were 49 percent more likely than other participants to have a heart attack or die of heart disease. The authors suggest that the perception of the negative effects of stress may increase blood pressure or heart rate, or have indirect effects like increasing smoking or excessive drinking. What to do about it? The first step is to identify the stressor and then to take action to manage it — physical activity, relaxation, meditation. But for severe cases, you need to look for professional help.