Let us see how stress and heart disease are intimately related..
Stress prepares the body for crisis management. As if you are trapped in a blazing fire. Or, a wild animal is chasing you. Your body is intelligent. Obviously, it prepares itself for fire fighting or to run away from the rabid animal that is out to kill you. Body goes in a ‘fight or flight’ mode.
Adrenaline, cortisol (biological steroid) and several other stress chemicals are pumped in the body. Heart starts pumping faster and harder. Blood is diverted to your legs and arms – tools of fight and flight – from all other vital organs like intestines and kidneys. Digestion slows down. Blood pressure goes up. Breathing becomes faster and shallow. Whole body is in preparedness for a combat.
Historically, when our ancestors lived in jungle – this stress response served the survival. Once the dreadful ‘jungle’ situation was over, system returned to basal restful state. This was the ‘relaxation response’.
But, fight and flight, both, are socially inadequate – whether in a traffic jam or with your boss, unjust spouse or child. You don’t run. You don’t physically fight. Body is prepared for physical action but social norms don’t approve of those responses. So..
..you do something else!
You fight or fly mentally and emotionally. You isolate yourself from the situation, create an inner wall of emotional defense - Swallow your feelings and words. And, pay a heavy price for being dis-connected with yourself. In the long run, you are cut up with your biological sensations and needs. Even biological needs like eating, drinking, sleeping and defecation are driven by whims and wishes of the mind.
Stress makes you behave in thousand ways that are destructive and damaging to health, happiness and fulfillment in relationship and personal growth. You eat when there is no biological hunger, and eat wrong kind of food – for which your body is not genetically engineered, you smoke and drink to de-stress and release your dis-ease. And, in the process create many diseases for yourself. Heart disease is a result of such stressed-out mal-adaptation in the lifestyle.
Indirectly it makes you unwisely eat, drink and smoke to burn out your health. One thing which designed to relieve your stress – physical activity – is ignored by most of us. Why? Stress negatively influence our decision making and mental clarity.
Faster and harder pumping to meet the increased demand damage the arterial walls. Cholesterol and lipoproteins come to these damaged places and start building up the well-known arterial blocks or ‘plaques’. Over the years these plaques fill up the coronaries and other arteries. One day, when no more cholesterol can be accommodated in that plaque – it ruptures like an over-stretched elastic band. It bleeds. And, the blood clots to fill up the already narrowed coronary artery. Blood supply to a part of the heart is blocked. This is a heart attack.
Besides causing heart disease, stress is responsible for 90% of modern illnesses.
Hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, obesity or overweight and high cholesterol are other major risk factors for heart disease and heart attack. True, they have genetic causes in some cases. But the main engine driving these modern diseases is lifestyle. And, lifestyle is driven by stress in our times. What is caused by way of living can not be cured by magic pills, laser beams and surgical knives.
The way to break the cycle of disease and unhappiness is to reconnect with bodily intelligence,
Live mindfully – refuse both stress and heart disease. Refuse a heart attack.
Stress and heart diseases are metaphors for reawakening the sleeping giant within you.
On the following friendly link you will find easy to understand, practical perspective on subject of stress and health; wwww.stress-and-relaxation.com