How Is Stress a Silent Killer?

‘Worried to death’, ‘my heart skipped a beat’, ‘sinking feeling’ etc. are some very common terms that we all tend to use in our everyday speech to describe situations of stress or worry.

Paying a bit of attention to those terms, will give a clue about what is being hinted at. Stress is a killer and a silent one at that. It creeps up slowly behind your back and finishes you off when you are not looking. If you feel that it is just hyperbole, then you need to get your facts right.

Effects of Stress on Your Body

The effects of stress on your body varies with the type of stress. If it is acute stress that you are dealing with, say for example you are stuck in traffic, or have missed an important meeting or you receive news of a loved one’s death or a traumatic brain injury etc. then the effects on your body are instant and severe.

Acute Stress and Fight or Flight Response

The immediate changes observed are an increase in heart rate and stronger contractions of the heart muscle, all under the supervision of stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol.

The ultimate effect is increased blood supply to larger muscles, dilatation of the heart and of course a sudden and steep rise in blood pressure.

This is commonly known as the fight or flight response. Once the acute stressor is removed, the body overcomes everything and returns to its normal state.

Effects of Chronic Stress

When your body is exposed to chronic stress over prolonged periods of time, can create a hoard of problems for the heart and blood vessels.

Persistently elevated levels of stress hormones and of blood pressure, and continuing surge in heart rate takes a toll on the body. Long-term ongoing and chronic stress can escalate the risk for hypertension, heart attack or stroke.

Stress Can Actually Kill

Repetitive episodes of acute stress and persistent chronic stress triggers inflammation in the circulatory system, chiefly in the coronary arteries. This is how stress can predispose to heart attacks and high cholesterol levels.

Stress Effects on Women

The risk for stress-associated heart disease differs widely on premenopausal and postmenopausal women. Premenopausal women can handle stress and its dangerous effects on the heart and blood vessels in a better way because they have good amounts of estrogen to help them along.

But unfortunately, postmenopausal women do not have this luxury and hence are at higher risk of developing stress-related heart issues and could even succumb to it.

Stress is a Silent Killer

Stress is truly a silent killer and can pose numerous health problems if not handled in a healthy manner. Implementing some relaxation techniques, adopting a healthy lifestyle and regulating your sleep schedules etc. are some measures that can be beneficial.

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