Just in time for Mother’s Day, new research shows coping with mental pressures and anxiety may be more taxing on the heart health of women.
The study, presented at a recent annual Experimental Biology meeting, showed men and women given the same stressful math problem all had an increase in blood pressure and heart rate while solving it. Normally, when heart rate and blood pressure rise, blood flow to the heart muscle increases so it can compensate. However, findings showed while the men’s heart increased blood flow, the women’s heart did not.
With many mothers overextending themselves, local cardiologists say stress management is a key factor in maintaining a healthy heart.
“Stress reduction is important for everyone. This study suggests women especially need to monitor their stress to avoid heart problems. And, women who have heart-related symptoms while under stress, need to tell their doctor right away,” says Jeffrey Rothfeld M.D., F.A.C.C., a cardiologist at Bradenton Cardiology Center.
Studies of heart attack patients found that 15 to 30 percent of those admitted to a medical center had suffered from severe emotional stress.
“High levels of stress make other risk factors such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure worse,” Rothfeld says.
Being able to identify stressors in life and releasing the tension they cause is critical in learning to cope with everyday pressure, as well as significant traumatic life events. Below are some common triggers that can affect mothers at all stages of life.
• Illness, either personal or of a family member or friend
• Death of a friend or loved one
• Problems in a personal relationship
• Work overload
• Financial concerns
After identifying the cause of stress, the next step is to learn coping techniques.
“Identifying and addressing issues is the best way to reduce the release of stress hormones, like adrenalin, into the bloodstream that increase the likelihood of both heart attack and sudden cardiac arrest,” Rothfeld says.
Some common techniques for coping with stress include:
• Eat and drink sensibly – Abusing alcohol and food may seem to reduce stress, but it actually adds to it.
• Stop smoking – Aside from the obvious health risks of cigarettes, nicotine acts as a stimulant and brings on more stress symptoms.
• Exercise regularly – Choose non-competitive activities and set reasonable goals. Aerobic exercise has been shown to release endorphins (natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude).
• Relax every day – Choose from a variety of different techniques, such as meditation, to unwind.
• Get enough rest – Even with proper diet and exercise, you can’t fight stress effectively without rest. You need time to recover so the time you spend asleep should be long enough to relax your mind as well as your body.
“Stress affects everyone differently. We can’t easily tell whose bodies respond poorly to stressful events, but we can all help ourselves by recognizing what stresses us out and coming up with coping strategies to help control how we respond to these situations,” Rothfeld says.
About Bradenton Cardiology Center:
Bradenton Cardiology Center is a full service heart center. Founded by Doctors George Thomas and Ballard Smith in 1984, the team of cardiologists has expertise in all areas of invasive and non-invasive cardiac testing and treatment. The center is a complete cardiac care facility. Bradenton Cardiology Center offers superior care in medicine while providing a personal, compassionate approach to patient care. Bradenton Cardiology Center is located at 316 Manatee Ave. West, Bradenton, Fla.
For more information, visit www.BradentonCardiology.com or call 941-748-2277 to make an appointment.