Whether you are consciously aware of your body’s response to stress or not, everybody will have their cardio-vascular system respond when you are subjected to stress. For many people, the primary habitual response to stress manifests with significant changes their cardiovascular system. If your life was threatened, your body will respond with the “Flight-Fight Response.” This response would prepare our bodies to fight or to flee in a life saving reaction. The way this response may affect the cardio-vascular system includes: increased heart rate (to pump more blood to muscles and brain for survival,) changes in the pattern of relaxed blood flow (the blood is directed to muscles and brain and away from hands/fingers, feet/toes (they get cool/cold), and digestive/reproductive organs,) and increased blood pressure.
This suggests that the heart rate changes and blood flow patterns change when you are in survival or in a “stressed out” mode. 70% of people with high blood pressure have “Essential” or “Situational” hypertension which means that their blood pressure goes up in the doctor’s office as a response to fear or anxiety. This can also be referred to as “White Coat” hypertension. High blood pressure, if chronic, can damage blood vessels, the kidneys, and makes the heart have to work extra hard to pump against the higher pressures in this system. This can lead to severe health problems. Warning: since this is potentially very serious consult with your physician and get the proper tests to determine how your body responds.
Denial regarding the important negative effects of stress is very common with people who suffer from heart disease. Since reducing stress seems impossible, people ignore the positive results can occur. People, for convenience, will gravitate to medicines to control symptoms of heart disease but the side-effects can be very costly and sometimes the positive results from medication can be limited. Please consider “connecting” with your heart and your body to gain control of your habitual response to stress.
Learning to relax includes learning to “Let Go” with the circulatory system. This will include, slowing heart rate, a vasodilation of blood vessels to reduce blood pressure, and the warming of the hands and feet. All of these responses are exactly opposite the stress response.
Stress can also raise the level of free floating cholesterol which the body produces and releases to patch tears in blood vessels that can occur when the blood pressure goes up. Over time this repair work can create “hardening of the arteries” which also can lead to fatal health challenges like heart disease, strokes (CVA’s), and kidney damage.
If you have had a “by-pass” operation or stents placed in a blood vessel to keep it open or if you wish to help to prevent these situations, consider using regular relaxation, getting more physical exercise, and making dietary changes to prevent this situation from getting as bad as it can, as fast as it will. If your genetics pre-dispose you to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or elevated cholesterol then seriously consider these steps to prevent damage and possible early death.
Articles at our website describe stress management for high blood pressure techniques that can help to lessen the possible negative effects of life’s stress on your systems. Look for the article on Temperature Training Biofeedback as an important add-on which allows the process of self-awareness and stress management to work most effectively. Go to the “articles” page at the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com for access to this information.
You can get back in control of your body’s habitual response to holding stress in your cardiovascular system with 8-12 weeks of regular practice. These practices will end up saving you time and energy, but may also add “quality” years to your life.