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Some signs of stress you can’t help but notice, such as sweaty palms, a twisting tummy and tense muscles. Other changes, however, you can’t feel— but they can have serious consequences for your health.
According to a new study, women’s hearts may be especially vulnerable to the effects of stress. During a stressful experience, women showed a greater restriction in their blood vessels compared with men, reports a study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. When blood vessels constrict, it decreases blood flow and oxygen to your heart. This can lead to a condition called cardiac ischemia, which can cause chest pain and heart attack.
Give Yourself a Stress Test
You may already know that managing stress is important for your overall health. Now, there’s even more reason to do so. Signs that stress may be taking a toll on your well-being include:
- Aches and pains, such as headache, backache, neck ache, tight muscles, or clenched jaw
- Changes in energy level and sleep habits, such as always feeling tired or difficulty falling asleep
- Feeling anxious, angry or depressed
- Being easily irritated or confused
Put Stress to Rest
You can gain control over stress and protect your heart for many years to come. Here are some ways you can reduce the stress in your life:
- Say no. Consider your priorities and don’t be afraid to say no if something doesn’t fit with them.
- Avoid triggers. While it isn’t possible to avoid all stressors, sometimes you can. For example, if going certain places or being around certain people makes you feel stressed, try to avoid them.
- Exercise. Find an activity you enjoy doing, whether that’s walking, biking, or taking an exercise class. Making it part of your daily life will help you feel better in body, mind and spirit.
If you think that stress may be affecting your heart health, make an appointment with your doctor. It’s never too late to adopt a lifestyle that manages stress and supports your whole health.
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