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Know how you can manage stress and protect your heart.
World Heart Day is celebrated every year on 29th September in order to provide a platform for the cardiovascular disease (CVD) community to unite in the fight against CVD and reduce the global disease burden. The World Heart Day is organised by the World Heart Federation, which informs people around the globe that CVD, including heart disease and stroke, is the world’s leading cause of death claiming 18.6 million lives each year. World Heart Day highlights the actions that individuals can take to prevent and control CVD.
Stress is an undeniable part of life. We experience stress in all conventions of life, from school, home, work, or even social gatherings. Even though many think that stress is part and parcel of an ordinary life, prolonged stress can have severe repercussions on your physical well-being and heart's health. Stress can be caused by multiple stimuli, from external factors including major life-changing events, stressful surrounding environment, work-related stress, to internal factors such as fears, lack of control or uncertainty, experiences, and beliefs etc.
Stress pushes the body to react in a certain way, and when a person's brain identifies a threat or a challenging situation, it stimulates the body to release hormones that raise blood pressure and heart rate, which is often referred to as the fight-or-flight response of the body. When the threat is no longer there, the body returns to its normal and relaxed state. When stress becomes constant, the body remains in alert mode. Eventually leading to high levels of stress hormones, and prolonged stress can lead to various heart conditions. The type of prolonged stress is called Chronic stress.
Chronic stress is a type of stress that goes on for weeks or months at a stretch. One can get used to chronic stress in such a way that they may fail to identify it as a problem. Some reasons such as unhappy relationships, poor work-life balance or financial issues are some of the factors that may lead to chronic stress. If left untreated, chronic stress can take a toll on the heart's health. Some of those adverse effects include:
• Elevated blood pressure
• Increased inflammation in the body
• A surge in cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood
• Increased risk of arrhythmias (heart rhythm disorders), obesity, and diabetes.
It is vital to recognise what triggers stress for you and take timely action to curb it. Some ways to help manage stress and reduce the risk of heart disease are:
Our outlook towards life has a strong bearing on how we feel, according to various studies in heart disease patients, you are more likely to live longer with a positive attitude than a negative one. As a matter of fact, a good laugh can play a key role in improving heart health. People who laugh more have lower stress hormones, less inflammation in the arteries, and more HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or "good" cholesterol.
Meditation is effective against hypertension - a major risk factor for heart disease. Even yoga and prayer can help relax the mind and body.
Physical activity or exercise help in the release of endorphins, a type of mood-boosting chemicals. Exercising has multiple benefits such as reduction in stress, low levels of blood pressure, strengthening of the heart muscle, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Sometimes, it is crucial to leave everything behind and focus on oneself for a time being. Try to avoid social media and TV news. Take out some time each day - even 15 to 20 minutes - to escape from the world.
Identify ways where you can relax and do something you like to get your mind off things that might increase your stress, be it listening to music, reading a book, playing a favourite sport, going for a walk, making art etc.
This World Heart Day let us all join the global campaign and participate in activities to take charge of our heart health. It is of utmost importance to #FindYourBalance in today's world, and fight against the CVD burden to inspire international action and encourage heart-healthy living across the world.
The only way to ease the burden of medical expenses in case of unforeseen medical emergencies and secure future health is by having health insurance. Kotak General Insurance is one of the leading health insurance providers that offer a critical illness insurance policy, comprehensive health insurance plan and many more to safeguard yourself and your family.
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