Cardiovascular: The Dangers of Stress
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the USA sees approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease yearly (that’s one in four deaths!) – It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women. And every year, 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. In Australia, it’s a major cause of death, killing one Australian every 12 minutes and affecting 3.72 million in the country. The Heart Foundation of Malaysia puts heart disease as the country’s leading cause of death, in terms of disease. A 2011 report from the World Health Organisation showed that 32% of deaths were attributable to heart disease.
Heart or cardiovascular disease is a range of conditions that affects the heart – these include diseases that affect the blood vessels, like coronary artery disease and arrhythmias, which mean that the rhythm of the heart is affected. There are also congenital heart defects, which are present from birth, and those which affect the heart’s muscles, or valves.
The heart is a very strong organ that helps sustain life but stress can have serious repercussions on it, if not managed early and effectively.
These conditions can then lead to blood vessels that have stiffened up, or become narrowed or blocked altogether and therefore, lead to a heart attack or stroke. Symptoms of heart disease can include chest pain (prevalent in men), and nausea, fatigue and shortness of breath (more common in women), as well as pain and numbness in your extremities, back, neck or jaw, a fluttering in the chest, a racing or slow heartbeat, dizziness and fainting, and fatigue.
Arguably, the most important organ in your body, your heart’s health can be affected by a host of factors, including hereditary and lifestyle issues – some of which are more within your control than others. But one factor which definitely does fall into the realm of personal control is stress, and how it’s managed.