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Stress is a perfectly normal part of life

But if it becomes unmanageable or chronic, stress can lead to emotional, psychological and even physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure and chest discomfort (angina).

Stress affects the body in a number of ways. The body reacts to stress by releasing adrenaline, a hormone which causes your heart rate to increase, your breathing to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. This is the body’s natural response as it prepares you to either run from the stress or stay and fight it, often called the ‘flight or fight’ response.

While stress isn’t a primary risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it’s likely to contribute to your risk level. How much it increases your risk depends on how you cope with stress. When stress becomes chronic or occurs frequently, your body stays in this ‘fight or flight’ state more than it should. This type of stress causes your heart rate and blood pressure to increase, which may damage the artery walls.

Furthermore, to cope with stress some people develop undesirable habits such as smoking, overeating and drinking too much. These bad habits will increase your risk of heart disease or heart attack.

Marie Young talks about stress and heart health
The number one cause of high cortisol is stress. Having high levels of cortisol can be very dangerous to your body. Stress can be caused by an number of things in your life and having a very safe and secure relationship with your Primary Care giver such as your GP gives you the opportunity to talk about what these stresses might be and how you can manage themHelen Thompson-Carter
Helen Thompson-Carter
Stress is when we feel the demands that are placed on us outstrip our ability to cope with them.Marie Young, Psychologist
Marie Young, Psychologist

What you can do

Changing your lifestyle in a positive way can help you feel better able to cope. Having a balanced diet and regular physical activity will help you cope with stress. If you often feel stressed or anxious, it’s important to learn how to relax. Some people find that physical activity, yoga or other relaxation techniques can help. You could make a list of things that help you to relax and schedule one every day.

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Discuss stress and anxiety with my health professional

You may need to identify situations that make you feel stressed at home or at work and try to avoid them if you can. To help you identify your signs of stress download our free signs of stress worksheet.

You could also learn techniques for managing stress. If you think you are stressed or very anxious, talk to your GP who will be able to help you decide on the best way to deal with it.

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Make a list of things to help you relax

Continue the journey

Relaxation
Learn about the benefits and some relaxation techniques
Read more
Sleep & Energy
Discover how sleep plays a role in your wellbeing
Read more

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