For some time, the medical community has been aware that mental stress can lead to cardiovascular disease. Now, a new study has found how psychological tension and pressure affect both heart and psychological health in the genders in surprisingly unique ways. Understanding the different reactions that women’s and men’s hearts and minds have to stress may help doctors tailor treatments better.
New Research Distinguishes Gender Reactions
Thisstudy began with its stable heart disease subjects undergoing baseline testing. Then they completed three tasks (a mathematics test, a tracing assignment, and an anger memory assessment) that created mental stress. A treadmill test followed. During the stressful tests and resting periods in between, the research team used echocardiograms to assess changes in subjects’ hearts. They also compared blood pressure readings, heart rates, and blood samples.
The investigators discovered that stress made women more apt to experience reduced blood flow to their hearts and greater blood cell clumping that can lead to blood clot formation. Negative emotions also increased as positive ones declined more drastically in women during stress-inducing projects. Men tended to respond to stress with greater blood pressure and heart rate fluctuations.
Dr. Zainab Samad, the study’s author and a Duke University Medical Center assistant professor of medicine, noted that doctors need to identify these differences when they evaluate patients for and treat cardiovascular disease. She added that more studies are necessary to determine how female and male hearts responding to stress differently will affect long-term health outcomes. The new findings also underscore how inadequate current risk-predicting tools are. Samad said that they should do a better job of measuring the effects of psychological stress on negative physiological and psychological reactions in each gender, particularly in females.
Cardiovascular Treatment Options
If you have heart trouble, your doctor may prescribe certain heart medications. Plavixis a blood thinner that stops platelets from coagulating to prevent blood clots that may occur following a heart attack or stroke. Doctors also prescribe it for patients with some heart and blood vessel disorders. Avapro is an angiotensin II receptor antagonist that prevents your blood vessels from narrowing, which improves blood flow and reduces blood pressure.
Take Brief Mental Vacations to Relieve Stress
Other studies confirm that living under stress can cause physical ailments. When you don’t take time to ease pressure, you can suffer from long-term health consequences. Learning a few quick, realistic techniques can help you add much-needed stress relief to you daily routine. Extensive research indicates that vacations alleviate stress while being good for your mental health. If your commitments and circumstances are preventing you from escaping, try these quick psychologist-recommended mental getaways to release stress without ever leaving home.
Snuggle in bed with a good book: A warm, comfortable, and cozy bed is a tranquil retreat that feels luxurious. Losing yourself in a good story helps you forget your problems and then refocus on solutions. This popular escape can create relaxed, refreshed feelings so you can face the world beyond your private sanctuary’s door.
Visualize relaxation: Reserve some quiet time to shut your eyes and imagine a relaxing image like warm sun drenching your skin while ocean sounds soothe your soul. Visualize Mother Nature sprinkling a sprawling country field with colorful, fragrant flowers. Or envision a trickling mountain stream. Let your mind wander back to an occasion when you felt at peace. As relaxation washing over you, concentrate on releasing tension from the tips of your toes all the way up to your head.
View favorite pictures: Look through old photos of family and friends, reliving happy memories. Reminiscing is both fun and relaxing. Focus on what made special moments so enjoyable.
Enjoy music: Create a unique playlist that elicits relaxation or recalls wonderful times to encourage a brief daily escape. Close your eyelids and take in soothing sounds while breathing slowly and deeply to help you unwind and de-stress.
Go for a walk: Physical activity promotes stress relief by allowing your mind to wander as you walk off your problems. Winding through a park, down a trail, beside a waterfront, or any other peaceful locale as often as possible will increase your relaxation. Be aware of how your body relaxes gradually, which allows your mind to clear.
Choose an outdoor distraction: To concentrate on anything besides your stressors, refocus your attention. Engage in people watching or bird watching. Indulge in a daydream. Enjoy fluffy clouds floating across the blue sky. Relish the wind tickling your face. Pause to inhale slowly, which will expand and then relax tense muscles.
Big chunks of time aren’t necessary for these relaxing mini vacations to be beneficial. Just five to 20 minutes each morning and night can make a real difference. Treat yourself to quick hideouts every day, and you’ll teach your body how to relax while also reducing stress. Being self-indulgent for short daily periods will help you feel so much better. So why don’t you begin right now? Shut your door, sit comfortably, and take deep breaths. Imagine relaxing in an idyllic tropical paradise with your stress floating away on a refreshing ocean breeze.