Heart Health

01 September 2010

De-stress your heart

High stress has been directly linked to the occurrence of heart disease and often fatal heart attacks. Learn how stress affects your heart and what you can do to manage it better.

Can stress lead you to have a heart attack? According to Shelton Kartun, a specialist in the field of anger management and a counsellor in stress management as well as Founder of the only Anger & Stress Management Centre in South Africa, the answer is an emphatic YES. High stress has been directly linked to the occurrence of heart disease and often fatal heart attacks.

  • 1 in 7 males develop heart disease as a result of high stress and
  • 2 out of 5 adults have high blood pressure due to stress!

The effect of chronic stress on your mind, body, and heart are equally as detrimental as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Chronic stress increases blood pressure and cholesterol and leads to chronic hypertension.

  • Heart rate increases
  • The rate of blood flow speeds up, increasing blood pressure
  • The release of fatty acids into the bloodstream for energy increases cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Under chronic stress, the continued release of cortisol seems to have some effect on where fat is deposited in the body, most often in the abdomen area

  • Effective time management, planning and organisation
  • Relax – have breaks during the day, especially at work
  • Accept your circumstances and do not compare yourself to another individual – you are unique
  • Exercise - the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA recommends that an adult exercise at least 5 times a week for 30 minutes
  • Reduce excess weight – follow a healthy well balanced eating plan
  • Drink lots of water
  • Develop a positive outlook – confess positive affirmations
  • Set boundaries in your life
  • Develop routine and structure
  • Sleep for at least 6 hours
  • Avoid addictions i.e. TV, drug, alcohol, etc.
  • Try aromatherapy or massages
  • Have realistic goals
  • Don’t be a people pleaser – learn to say NO
  • Recognise what you can change – don’t waste time with the “if only’s”, the past is the past
  • Have a great support network (friends)


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