Think you’re stressed? Think again. That thought alone is hazardous to your health.

According to a new study published in the European Heart Journal, people who believe they are stressed have twice the risk of heart attack than those who do not.

Stress is a reaction to a stimulus. Sometimes it is useful in motivation and survival. When it is chronic and triggers the fight-or-flight response to be stuck in the on position it’s another story. This condition weakens our immune system and taxes every system of the body.

Stress signals the hypothalamus to prompt the adrenal glands to release hormones such as adrenaline to increase heart rate and elevate blood pressure. It also promotes the hormone cortisol to increase glucose in the bloodstream, alter immune system responses, and suppress the digestive and reproductive systems.

When stress is always present and that fight-or-flight response is activated indefinitely, the resulting overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones prompts a long list of health risks including: headache, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, nausea, sleep disruption, anxiety, irritability, depression, eating and digestive disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual dysfunction, heart disease, memory impairment, and worsening of skin conditions such as eczema.

If you want to avoid these health problems, do what you can to avoid the person, job, or situation that causes you stress, and in the meantime, think happy thoughts.

(see more at www.mayclinic.com)

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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