Worried About Heart Disease? Try Stress Management


stressed man

Worried About a Heart Attack? Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…

A 5-year study of men with heart disease showed that those who went through 4 months of stress management training were less likely to need a heart procedure such as bypass surgery over the study period. Adding stress management to routine heart disease treatment might lessen some patients long-term risk of complications.
Overall, few of the 94 men in the study had a heart attack, and only one died. But in the study’s first year, two men who received only standard care had a heart attack, while none in the stress reduction group did.
And despite the added cost of stress management training, patients in this group had lower hospitalisation and doctor’s costs over 5 years than men in the standard care group did. Costs in the exercise group were similar to the stress reduction group’s.These findings confirm the added value of stress management training to usual medical care, and indicate that such training is associated with fewer adverse cardiac events and less medical expenditures.

The study’s stress management was geared specifically to heart patients, providing information on heart disease and its risk factors as well as techniques for lowering stress.
Men in the stress management group went through 16 small-group sessions that provided them with ways to control negative emotions and thoughts, techniques for muscle relaxation and other stress-calming tactics.
Patients did not enter this study “complaining of stress” — which suggests heart disease patients need not feel stress is a problem to benefit from stress management.
American Journal of Cardiology January 15, 2002;89

Eric Comments

This, of course, is not new information. But the evidence is quite loud and clear. Stress likely causes more heart attack deaths than high cholesterol and smoking combined. 
Stress causes a lot of problems for the stressed person, for example, another recent study showed that women who have been exposed to domestic violence during the past year have a 37 percent increased risk for asthma. In this study the researchers pointed out that domestic violence and other severe stressors increase the body’s inflammatory process leading to an asthmatic attack.  Stress, anger, hostility and depression join together to form a picture of a process leading to inflammation, heart disease, asthma, diabetes and many other illnesses. All of this also makes life feels miserable for all concerned.
What to do?
Visit a practitioner who can assess you stress levels, and particularly a practitioner who understands the adrenal gland and adrenal fatigue. Additionally, the therapeutic benefits of exercise, Tai Chi, meditation and leisure activities have been amply demonstrated in reducing stress and depression. Then, there is meditation as well, but  did you know that holding hands helps to reduce blood pressure and stress levels? In fact, stroking or patting your dog or cat does as well.