DON’T ALLOW THE STRESS OF TODAY AFFECT YOUR HEALTH TOMORROW
June is the official beginning of Summer and normally a time for vacations and time spent with family and friends. I think it is safe to say we are now living in tumultuous times never seen before in our lifetime. The entire world has been quarantined from a viral pandemic, in the U.S., we are living through riots and protests and many people have lost their jobs due to global economic shutdown from the pandemic. Too say we live in stressful times is certainly an understatement.
What many people may not understand though, are the health consequences of stress. Stress can cause a cardiac event that resembles a heart attack. This stress induced cardiomyopathy, called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy or sometimes referred to as broken heart syndrome, isn’t due to a blockage that occurs in heart attacks but rather cause your heart to pump inefficiently which affects delivery of oxygen and nutrients to every cell in your body. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is most common in women aged 58 to 75, who make up more than 90% of cases.
Your body’s response to acute stress is supposed to protect you.
However, your body’s long term, chronic response to stress can harm you. The hormone cortisol is released in response to stress. High levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. These are common risk factors for heart disease. This stress can also cause changes that promote the buildup of plaque deposits in the arteries. Even minor stress can trigger heart problems like poor blood flow to the heart muscle. Long-term stress can affect how the blood clots. This makes the blood stickier and increases the risk of stroke. Experiencing chronic stress, including that from racial biases, poverty, unemployment, fear of illness or relationship troubles, increases your risk of high blood pressure or hypertension. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease. Even without the additional stress of the past 6 months, ordinarily two out of every three Americans suffer an unsafe elevation in blood pressure. Stress can also contribute to unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking too much or overeating, all of which are tied to adverse effects on heart health, according to the American Heart Association.
Each person deals with stress differently, however, physiologically, everybody responds similarly. Stress causes a disruption in the production of nitric oxide. Loss of nitric oxide production is what is responsible for the increase in blood pressure, increase in blood sugar and reduced blood flow to the heart and other organs throughout the body. When you lose the ability to produce nitric oxide, cortisol levels increase and causes even more problems. Nitric oxide is what controls cortisol levels and can inhibit cortisol production. Without nitric oxide, cortisol levels rise and the physiological effects of cortisol take over and problems occur. Stress also weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to infections, including COVID.
We must all learn to deal with stress and manage it. If you wish to avoid the health consequences of stress, then you must employ strategies to increase or improve your nitric oxide production. Everything we can learn about effectively controlling stress is related to nitric oxide. Deep breathing can help with stress. Deep breathing also increases nitric oxide. Exercise is known to reduce stress and exercise increases nitric oxide.
My philosophy is quite simple for optimal health. Give the body what it needs and remove from the body what is does not need and our body will heal itself. Many of the things we do or don’t do affect the production of nitric oxide. When you cannot make nitric oxide, bad things happen and the science tells us that your body cannot and will not heal without restoring nitric oxide production. This summer makes some changes that could save your life. Although we cannot control the things that happen around us, we can control how we react and respond to them. If you are feeling stressed, I recommend these three things:
- Take 10 deep breaths, in through the nose out through the mouth to enhance nitric oxide production
- Take a patented, clinically proven nitric oxide supplement to enhance your body’s nitric oxide
- Take a break and go for a walk or run to activate nitric oxide production
All of these will not only take your mind off the stressor for a while but more importantly will prepare your body to deal with the stresses of life without the adverse health consequences.