Heart Disease: Is The Caveman Partially to Blame?

Heart Disease: Is The Caveman Partially to Blame?

in Blog |

Heart Attack Mind-body connection, Stress Response

Did you know that your reaction to stress can make you seriously sick and shorten your life?

“If you ask what the single most important key to longevity is, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” -George Burns

Many times a day our bodies react to stress. In fact, we need a certain level of stress to keep us going. People refer to “good” and “bad” stress. Good stress is the type of stress that athletics needs to get energized while bad stress is the one that keeps us worried and anxious.

According to Dr. Crandal, a well-known cardiologist “Some people think that this type of [good] stress doesn’t matter. The so-called bad stress from worry or anxiety is worse than the so-called good stress that competitive people claim they thrive on well, I perform heart surgery on people with both types of stress.”

No matter what kind of stress a person experiences, the underlying extreme stress response is the same. Except, in the case of the “good” stress, there are certain counterbalancing biological reactions that come into play that minimizes some of the harmful responses in the body.

Stress Response

Stress can take a toll on your heart. The stress response is a primitive response; our caveman ancestors were programmed this way as a survival mechanism. Your body releases chemicals that gets you ready to fight or to flee. Your blood pressure rises, your heart pumps harder, and sugar is released into your bloodstream for instant energy. After the stress, [threat] has passed, your body relaxes and returns to normal. The problem is that modern life puts us under constant stress. Our body needs to deal with this constant stress response, exposed to all the excessive internal chemical changes that go with it.

So what can you do to cope? Luckily there are some simple ways to help manage stress in your life. Here are three tips.

1. Adopt some form of meditative practice like mindful-meditation. Some feel that they don’t have the time for themselves, life is too busy. Between the kids’ activities and carpool, work around the house, and responding to after hours emails and texts from the office, there is no time left. According to Dr. Waldman, a well know neuroscientist, taking 1 to 2 minutes each hour, during the day, to do a simple breathing exercise can have the beneficial effect of a 30 to 45-minute mediation session.
Here is a link to a simple 1-minute breathing exercise you can incorporate into your daily routine.

2. Stay active, exercising your body produces endorphins that make you feel good and reduce anxiety.

3. Cultivate your spiritual side, being part of a spiritual community can give your life meaning, and bring you peace of mind. Research shows that social connectedness and gratitude can have a beneficial impact on your mind and body.

These are a few way to keep your heart healthy.


Additional Resources