Taking unnecessary stress at workplace or at home can put your heart at risk. According to the team from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, heightened activity in the amygdala — a region of the brain involved in stress — can lead to cardiovascular disease in humans apart from established causes like smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Previous research has also shown that the amygdala is more active in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression but before this study, no research had identified the region of the brain that links stress to the risk of heart attack and stroke.
“Our results provide a unique insight into how stress may lead to cardiovascular disease. This raises the possibility that reducing stress could produce benefits that extend beyond an improved sense of psychological wellbeing,” said lead author Dr Ahmed Tawakol from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Eventually, chronic stress could be treated as an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease, which is routinely screened for and effectively managed like other major risk factors, Dr Tawakol added in a paper published in the prestigious journal The Lancet.
Common Everyday Activities That Put Stress On Your Heart
1. STRESSING TOO MUCH
Stress isn’t just annoying, it can also be deadly. Some media outlets have even put stressing out too much on par with smoking in regards to its effect on your overall health. According to Everyday Health, stress spurs the body to release adrenaline, which temporarily affects how your body functions — your heart rate increases, and your blood pressure may rise. Over time, too much stress can damage blood vessels in the heart and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
2. NOT FLOSSING
While we recently were shocked to learn that flossing wasn’t quite as important to our oral health as we were led to believe our entire lives, that doesn’t mean it’s completely useless.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Periodontal Research found that people with coronary heart disease who flossed experienced fewer cardiovascular problems. According to Everyday Health, this may be because bacteria associated with gum disease promote inflammation in the body, and inflammation has been associated with increased risk for heart disease. Flossing may help to decrease the amount of inflammation-promoting bacteria in your mouth, giving you not only healthy pink gums, but also a healthy heart.
3. WATCHING TV
Sitting for hours on end watching TV does a lot of damage to your heart. According to Health.com, the lack of movement can affect blood flow, and even the amount of fats and sugars in your body. What’s more, sitting is so bad that not even regular exercise is enough to reverse its adverse health effects. One study showed that those who don’t move enough and tend to sit for five hours or more each day have double the risk for heart failure.
While we’re not saying to give up your movie marathons, maybe next time ensure that you get up and move throughout them.
4. IGNORING SNORING
We often overlook snoring (much to the annoyance of our partners). In reality, this everyday behavior could be a sign of a more serious health problem, and ignoring it could be bad for your heart. For some, snoring can be a harbinger of obstructive sleep apnea, a health condition where the upper airway is either completely or partially blocked while asleep. Untreated, sleep apnea can seriously increase blood pressure, which in the long run can increase an individual’s risk for stroke or heart attack, Health.com reported.
5. NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH
Not getting enough sleep has a similar effect on our health as stressing too much. Everyday Health reported that both lead to high resting cortisol and adrenaline levels, which in turn increases heart rate and blood pressure. While the odd night of poor sleep won’t likely do much, in the long run, chronic sleep deprivation can seriously compromise your heart health, so make sure you get a good night’s rest as often as you can.