Stress: The Heart Wrencher!

“Heart Attack”….When this word is uttered by Physician, even a “Lion Hearted” person’s heart skips a beat, sweat appears on forehead & hands begin to tremble. The reasons are many, including survival, post-discharge life & professional modifications & of course the cost involved in immediate & long term treatment.

A decade earlier patient would tell us “Doctor, we will have to contact our children, in decision making”. But, now they say “Sir, I have two small children, please do something, money doesn’t matter.” With increasing prosperity, Heart diseases are now common in Younger age patients. In today’s “Racing Lifestyle” traditional risk factors for heart attack (Diabetes, High BP, Cigarette smoking &High Cholesterol) are on rising.  

“STRESS” along with above-mentioned factors, contribute to an alarming rise of heart attacks, especially in younger populations. It is time for Medical Fraternity and laymen alike to introspect & deal with the fact of stress leading to heart problems.

STRESS

Stress, is an inevitable part of everybody’s life, especially that of Doctor’s. A patient or two in ICU is enough to give a doctor a sleepless night. Dealing with a multitude of problems in OPD’s wards & OTs, striving to give the best possible care to patients adds up to the stress level of a Medical practitioner. Deteriorating patient-doctor relationship, litigation prone society and the “Rat Race” in profession multiplies the stress level.

This is true in any profession, especially in ITES, where the deadline has to be met, need to develop quality products catering to the world market, added with abnormal working hours thereby disturbing Circadian Rhythm of the body leads to a lot of Physical & Mental Stress.     

Stress is a feeling of Physical or Emotional tension as a response to events which makes one feel angry, nervous, helpless or frustrated. It’s body’s reaction to the challenge. Maybe a demanding boss, morning gridlock of traffic or soured relationship with a friend or a family member. Whatever the cause, its likely one experiences on daily basis. 

In short bursts, it may have positive effects such as finishing intended jobs or meeting deadlines. It can be a good thing if it motivates one to achieve something.  But, Chronic, overwhelming stress can have a negative impact on your on one’s physical, mental & emotional wellbeing. Knowing how to spot the signs & symptoms of chronic stress, can help one to stay aware & address the issue before they harm health.

How does stress cause Heart Attack? 

Once a person is under severe stress, there is a surge of hormones in the body which leads to famous “Fight or Fight Reaction “. Long term stress can lead to having a constant elevated level of these hormones, have a direct deleterious effect on the heart.  These hormones also increase the level of BP and Blood sugar levels, which are traditional risk factors for Heart Attack. Unfortunately, the stress level cannot be “measured” unlike BP or blood sugar. Hence, it is difficult to quantify what level of stress is detrimental to heart disease. 

How to beat stress & save the Heart?

Effect of stress on the heart is highly individual, as stress taking & dealing capacity of every individual is different. Some are really “Cool Cats” while others are “Speeding Stallions”. Some of the ways to beat stress are “5 S’s”

  1. Speak: Share your stresses with your Spouse, friends and relatives. They may suggest a way out. Don’t let your emotions pent up in you. Let them out. Sometimes it’s not a good idea to be “Gentleman”.

  2. Solution: Try to find the best amicable solution to the problem, which need not always be perfect. Have Courage to change things which you can, and humbleness to accept which you can’t. 

  3. Socialize: Have an array of friends and attend social, cultural and family events. This takes your mind away from workplace problems. You may even meet a “Solution” to your problem.

  4. Sports: Take up a sport which your age and body permit. This helps to relax and increases “Endorphin Levels” which are happy hormones.

  5. Spirituality: Spirituality in the true sense, like Meditation and soul searching, will give strength & capacity to deal with the stress-causing problem. A calm mind may reveal the possible easy solution to the problems which are stressing you out.

The other “2 S’s” i.e., Smoking and Spirits (Alcohol) are strict No No,   as these have a deleterious effect on the heart and other body organs.  Traditional risk factors such as BP, Sugars & Cholesterol are also increased by these vices. Hence, these “Solutions” multiply the risk for heart attack rather than relieve the stress.

My advice to the general public and professional colleagues is to have a regular health check-up to detect & estimate the level of traditional risk factors. Control these risk factors. Learn to “Let Go” and “Stop to Smell Roses” in this race of life. Have a healthy life.

 

Dr. Rajesh Bhat U

Interventional Cardiologist

KMC Hospital, Dr B R Ambedkar Circle, Mangalore

Appointment
Health Check
Homecare icon Home Care
Contact Us
Write to COO
Call Us