Give Your Heart a Break: Overcoming Chronic Stress

adc-heart-disease-and-stress

When you are constantly experiencing stress, your body remains in high gear off and on for days or even weeks at a time. Chronic stress that causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure may damage the artery walls.

Chronic Stress

On one hand, stress is inevitable and a necessary part of life. There is, however, serious consequences to not handling stress in a healthy manner. Even short-lived stress can have an impact. Chronic stress has been proven to increases the risk of developing health problems including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a weakened immune system. Chronic stress also has a significant negative effect on a person’s mental health. Many studies show a correlation between stress and the development of mood disorders such as anxiety disorders and depression. According to the American Psychological Association, 66 percent of people regularly experience physical symptoms of stress, and 63 percent experience psychological symptoms. Some people don’t realize the effects of stress until the effects have already negatively affected them. 

Can Managing Stress Reduce or Prevent Heart Disease?

Managing stress is a good idea for your overall health, and researchers are currently studying whether managing stress is effective for heart disease. A few studies have examined how well treatment or therapies work in reducing the effects of stress on cardiovascular disease. Studies using psychosocial therapies – involving both psychological and social aspects – are promising in the prevention of second heart attacks. After a heart attack or stroke, people who feel depressed, anxious or overwhelmed by stress should talk to their doctor or other healthcare professionals.

Tips For Managing Stress

Fortunately, there are many ways to manage the unhealthy stress. Some of these tips may be more helpful than others, and some might already be included in your daily routine. Regardless, here’s a few tips that will help:

  • When feeling stressed, slow down and take deep breaths. Try to Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth
  • Exercise
  • Find a friend or family member you can trust and talk it out
  • Laugh
  • Be Positive
  • Seek out activities that involve others
  • Manage your time, be sure to not overwork yourself
  • Take a walk
  • Don’t self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs

Medicines are helpful for many things, but usually not for stress. If you are experiencing chronic stress, try learning how to manage your stress through relaxation or stress management techniques. Be careful not to confuse stress with anxiety. If you suffer from severe anxiety, speak with your doctor about your options.

Even the most organized people aren’t immune to experiencing stress. If you have questions or need more advice on managing stress, contact us or schedule an appointment.

(Some information provided by the American Heart Association).

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The Connection Between Sleep And Heart Disease Explained

ADC - sleep and heart disease

Scientific studies have shown a direct connection among sleep, sleep disorders, and heart disease. There is an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (dying from heart stoppage) in the first several hours after waking up. It is known that in there is an increased work demand on the heart that occurs when you wake up. People with sleep-related breathing disorders are more likely to have high blood pressure and are at risk of heart disease and stroke. Treating certain sleep-related breathing disorders may actually decrease a person’s chances of developing certain heart diseases.

Effects of Heart Disease on Sleep

As outlined above, sleep-related breathing disorders can directly cause heart disease. Yet, there are side effects of heart disease on sleep that, though more subtle, are also important to address. For instance, patients with congestive heart failure often report difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep This may be due to shortness of breath that often accompanies heart failure. This shortness of breath is often worse when the patient lies down because blood in the legs flows back into the heart and can overwhelm its ability to pump.

Heart failure patients may have orthopnea (shortness of breath when lying down) or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (waking up from sleep short of breath). Patients who experience these symptoms may feel like they have insomnia since their sleep is interrupted. In addition to experiencing these complications from heart disease, patients often worry about the long-term consequences of a heart attack or chronic heart disease. Anxiety by itself can lead to the development of chronic sleep problems.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention in order to ensure their ability to sleep well.

Good Sleep and A Healthy Heart

Many things can be done to maintain a healthy heart: eat a nutritional diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, get regular medical check-ups, and get adequate amounts of good quality sleep. If you have any kind of heart condition, it is especially important to watch for signs that you may have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as OSA, which could stress your heart. People with OSA are often overweight and experience loud snoring, gasping or choking episodes while sleeping, as well as trouble staying awake during the daytime If you already have hypertension or cardiovascular disease, talk with your healthcare professional about whether or not you may have a sleep and breathing disorder, such as OSA or CSA.

It is also important that patients with congestive heart contrast to people with OSA, those with heart failure and CSA are commonly thin and may not snore at all. if your healthcare professional thinks that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may suggest you have a diagnostic test called a sleep study, or refer you to a sleep medicine specialist. Sleep studies are usually done in a sleep laboratory. Small sensors called electrodes are attached to your body to measure your sleep, be able to determine whether you have any abnormalities in the quality of your sleep. Your healthcare professional is then given the results and the two of you can decide on the best course of treatment. Sleep disorders are treatable, and treatment can lead to a more healthy heart.

How to Sleep Well

These guidelines can help most people sleep better, as well as helping many individuals with different types of sleep disorders. For more specific guidelines about your own sleep problem, consult your healthcare professional.

  • Get up at the same time every day.
  • Go to bed only when sleepy.
  • Establish relaxing pre-sleep rituals such as a warm bath, light bedtime snack, or 10 minutes of reading.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a regular schedule.
  • Avoid caffeine within six hours of bedtime.
  • Try to nap at the same time every day; mid-afternoon is best for most people.
  • If sleeping pills are prescribed, they should be used conservatively. Most doctors avoid prescribing sleeping pills for periods longer than three weeks
  • Never combine sleeping pills and alcohol.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention in order to ensure their ability to sleep well. Contact us to answer any questions or to set up an appointment.

Sleep & Heart Disease

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Sleep is a time of rest for the entire body. Even the heart, which works day and night, naturally slows down during sleep. That’s why unhealthy heart function (caused by conditions such as heart disease) can deprive the body of restful sleep. Yet, the relationship between heart function and sleep works both ways. For instance, sleep-related breathing disorders have been shown to play a major role in causing several types of heart and blood vessel disease.

Sleep and the Heart

There are two distinct types of sleep: rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep (when most dreaming occurs), and non-REM sleep. Typically, when you fall asleep you begin in non-REM sleep. Most people spend about 80% of the night in this type of sleep. During non-REM sleep your heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure all drop to levels below those that occur while you are awake. During REM sleep – approximately 20% of your time asleep – both your blood pressure and heart rate can go up and down. Any time you wake up from sleep (even briefly), your heart rate and blood pressure club, and your heart must work harder. When you wake up in the morning, your blood pressure and heart rate both go up and then stay at a higher level throughout the day.

Sleep and Heart Disease

Scientific studies have shown a direct connection among sleep, sleep disorders, and heart disease. There is an increased risk of sudden cardiac death (dying from heart stoppage) in the first several hours after waking up. It is known that there is an increased work demand on the heart that occurs when you wake up. People with sleep-related breathing disorders are more likely to have high blood pressure and are at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Treating certain sleep-related breathing disorders may actually decrease a person’s chances of developing certain heart diseases.

If you have any kind of hear condition, it is especially important to watch for signs that you may have a sleep-related breathing disorder….

Effects of Heart Disease on Sleep

We’ve established that the effects of sleep-related breathing disorders can cause heart disease. Yet, there are effects of heart disease on sleep that, though more subtle, are also important to address. For instance, patients with congestive heart failure often report difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This may be due to shortness of breath that often accompanies heart failure. This shortness of breath that often accompanies heart failure. This shortness of breath is often worse when the patient lies down because blood in the legs flows back into the heart and can overwhelm its ability to pump. Heart failure patients may have orthopnea (shortness of breath when lying down) or paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea (waking up from sleep short of breath). Patients who experience these symptoms may feel like they have insomnia since their sleep is interrupted. In addition to experiencing these complications from heart disease, patients often worry about the long-term consequences of a heart attack or chronic heart disease. Anxiety by itself can lead to the development of chronic sleep problems.

There are many complex relationships between heart conditions and sleep-related breathing disorders. People with heart conditions need to take special care and seek medical attention i border to ensure their ability to sleep well.

Good Sleep – Healthy Heart

Many things can be done to maintain a healthy heart: eat a nutritional diet, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, get regular medical check-ups and get adequate amounts of food quality sleep. If you have any kind of heart condition, it is especially important to watch for signs that you may have a sleep0related breathing disorder, such as OSA, which could stress your heart. People with OSA are often overweight and experience loud snoring, gasping, or choking episodes while sleeping, as well as trouble staying awake during the daytime. If you already have hypertension or cardiovascular disease (coronary artery disease, angina pectoris, stroke), talk with your healthcare professional about whether or not you may have a sleep and breathing disorder, such as OSA or CSA. It is also important that patients with congestive heart failure be monitored for CSA and other sleep disorders. In contrast to people with OSA, Those with heart failure and CSA are commonly thin and may not snore at all.

If your healthcare professional thinks that you have a sleep disorder, he or she may suggest you have a diagnostic test, called a sleep study, or refer you to a sleep medicine specialist. Sleep studies are usually done in a sleep laboratory. Small sensors called electrodes are attached to your body to measure your sleep, breathing, heart rate, and oxygen level. The sleep specialist will be able to determine whether you have any abnormalities in the quality of your sleep. Your healthcare professional is then given the results and the two of you can decide on the best course of treatment. Sleep disorders are treatable, and can lead to a more healthy heart.

Don’t let your heart suffer. Contact us to schedule a sleep study.

Take Steps To Reduce Heart Risks

Amarillo Diagnostic Clinic


Amarillo, TX –

From the National Institutes of Health –


http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/

February is American Heart Month—a time to reflect on the sobering fact that heart disease remains the number one killer of both women and men in the United States. The good news is you have the power to protect and improve your heart health.

NIH and other government agencies have been working to advance our understanding of heart disease so that people can live longer, healthier lives. Research has found that you can lower your risk for heart disease simply by adopting sensible health habits.

To protect your heart, the first step is to learn your own personal risk factors for heart disease. Risk factors are conditions or habits that make you more likely to develop a disease. Risk factors can also increase the chances that an existing disease will get worse.

Certain risk factors—like getting older or having a family history of heart disease—can’t be changed. But you do have control over some important risk factors such as high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, excess weight, diabetes and physical inactivity.
Many people have more than one risk factor. To safeguard your heart, it’s best to lower or eliminate as many as you can because they tend to “gang up” and worsen each other’s effects.

A large NIH-supported study published last month underscores the importance of managing your risk factors. Scientists found that middle-aged adults with one or more elevated risk factors, such as high blood pressure, were much more likely to have a heart attack or other major heart-related event during their remaining lifetime than people with optimal levels of risk factors.

“For example, women with at least 2 major risk factors were 3 times as likely to die from cardiovascular disease as women with none or 1 risk factor,” says Dr. Susan B. Shurin, acting director of NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “You can and should make a difference in your heart health by understanding and addressing your personal risk.”

To tackle your heart risk factors, it helps to know your numbers. Ask your health care provider to measure your blood cholesterol and blood pressure. Then determine if your weight is in the healthy range.

The higher your cholesterol level, the greater your risk for heart disease or heart attack. High blood cholesterol itself doesn’t cause symptoms, so you can’t know if your cholesterol is too high unless you have it tested. Routine blood tests can show your overall cholesterol level and separate levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, HDL (“good”) cholesterol and triglycerides. All of these blood measurements are linked to your heart health.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is another major risk factor for heart disease, as well as for stroke. High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because, like high cholesterol, it usually has no symptoms. Blood pressure is always reported as 2 numbers, and any numbers above 120/80 mmHg raise your risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Scientific evidence is strong that controlling high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure prevents cardiac events such as heart attacks,” says Dr. Michael Lauer, a heart disease specialist at NIH.

Your weight is another important number to know. To find out if you need to lose weight to reduce your risk of heart disease, you’ll need to calculate your body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height). This NIH web page can help: www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 means that you’re overweight, while a BMI of 30 or higher means obesity.

Next, take out a tape measure. A waist measurement of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men raises the risk of heart disease and other serious health conditions. Fortunately, even a small weight loss (between 5% and 10% of your current weight) can help lower your risk.

NIH has many tools available to help you aim for a healthy weight, including physical activity tips and a menu planner. To learn more, visit http://healthyweight.nhlbi.nih.gov/.
A heart-healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as lean meats, poultry, fish, beans and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Try to avoid saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium (salt) and added sugar. NIH’s Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets both promote healthy eating. U.S. News & World Report named TLC and DASH the top 2 overall diets for 2012.

Regular physical activity is another powerful way to reduce your risk of heart-related problems and enjoy a host of other health benefits. To make physical activity a pleasure rather than a chore, choose activities you enjoy. Take a brisk walk, play ball, lift light weights, dance or garden. Even taking the stairs instead of an elevator can make a difference.

“At least 2 and a half hours a week of moderate-intensity physical activity can lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes—a winner on multiple counts,” says Dr. Diane Bild, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at NIH.

If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep your blood sugar, or glucose, under control. About two-thirds of people with diabetes die of heart or blood vessel disease. If you’re at risk for diabetes, modest changes in diet and level of physical activity can often prevent or delay its development.

If you happen to be a smoker, the best thing you can do for your heart is stop. People who smoke are up to 6 times more likely to suffer a heart attack than nonsmokers. The risk of heart attack increases with the number of cigarettes smoked each day.

The good news is that quitting smoking will immediately begin to reduce your risk, and the benefit in reduced risk will continue to increase over time. Just one year after you stop smoking, your risk will have dropped by more than half.

Beyond controlling your risk factors, you should be alert to certain symptoms and get checked by a doctor. Common signals that something‘s wrong with your heart include angina—pain in the chest, shoulders, arms, neck, jaw or back—as well as shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat or palpitations (arrhythmia) and fatigue.Be aware that the symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person. If you’ve already had a heart attack, your symptoms may not be the same if you have another one.

Finally, don’t forget that you can influence your loved ones’ heart health by setting an example. Do you have children, grandchildren or other young people who look up to you? If you follow a heart-healthy lifestyle, it’s more likely that they will, too.  Because heart disease begins in childhood, one of the best things you can do for those you love is to help children build strong bodies and healthy habits.

The bottom line is, it’s never too late to take steps to protect your heart. It’s also never too early. Start today to keep your heart strong. Talk to your doctor about your risk and to create an action plan. Love your heart.

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For more information about reducing heart risks, or about becoming a patient at ADC, visit our website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube Channel.