Study: Stress identified as cause of heart disease
Research reveals the relationship between activation of neural tissues and subsequent heart disease events.
JOHANNESBURG - New research by the American College of Cardiology shows that increased activity in the stress centre of the brain leads to inflammation in arteries and a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
The study has unveiled that people with greater activity in the brain's stress centre (the amygdala) had more inflammation in the arteries and stood a greater risk of cardiovascular problems.
It also showed that stress stimulated bone marrow to release cells that may trigger inflammation in the body.
The study's co-author, Dr Ahmed Tawakol, said, "It's become clear that stress is not only a result of adversity but may itself also be an important cause of disease. The risks of heart disease linked to stress are on par with that for smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, yet relatively little is done to address this risk compared to other risk factors,"
South African Pharmacist Giulia Criscuolo adds that prolonged stress may also lead to anxiety and depression.
She says research shows a 39 percent increase in antidepressant use in South Africa over the past four years, and 90 percent of those on anti-depressants experience at least one side effect such as anxiety, constipation, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, weight gain and sexual dysfunction such as low libido.
To help counter stress, anxiety and depression Criscuolo has suggested the following:
- Spend up to 30 minutes each day being quiet.
- Do something physical for 30 minutes every day.
- Spend time in nature. Walk on the beach, swim in the sea or hike up a mountain.
- Pursue activities that nourish your body, mind and soul.
- Put yourself first. This will enable you to serve others better.
- Slow down. Seek balance. Be present. Pray or meditate every day.
- Follow a healthy diet. Dark, green, leafy vegetables improve mood; fermented foods improve gut health and fatty fish are rich in Omega 3 fats which help manage anxiety.
- Avoid sugar and stimulants.
- Increase intake of vitamins and minerals.
- Connect with others.
- Seek credible natural remedies such as Felix, a food supplement which utilises a clinically researched extract of saffron called Satiereal, shown to help lower cardiovascular disease and treat mild to moderate depression.