Age, smoking, obesity, family history, blood pressure, cholesterol and lack of exercise are all known risk factors of having a heart attack. Therefore, we all get our vitals checked at the doctors, try to eat well and occasionally go for an outdoorsy walk when the weather is nice. But there is one factor that you may not have any control over and if you experience it, you increase your risk of a heart attack by 65 percent.
That’s quite a jump when you look at it, but it’s true according to new research published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcome. But what possibly could be harming your heart so dramatically? Well, it’s traumatic life events.
In life you want to experience all the good parts. Raise a family, be well off and live to be 100. But sometimes life throws us a curve ball and we are faced with traumatic events. These traumatic events severely hurt your heart.
The new research compared studies taken from the Women’s Health Study. Information from 267 American women who experienced a heart attack was compared with 281 women who did not have a heart attack, were similar in age but who smoked.
Factors such as negative life events – becoming unemployed, family loss, serious illness etc. – and income were recorded.
In the area of financial distress, women who went through finance issues were twice as likely to have a heart attack. The loss of a loved one increased the women’s risk by 62 percent and having a household income less than $50,000 also increased the women’s risk.
But why do traumatic experiences increase the risk of a heart attack so dramatically? Well, trauma causes stress and as we know stress can cause havoc on the body as a whole.
Stress is an arch-enemy to the body, but it varies in types. We all experience some level of stress but when it becomes too much that is when things can go awry.
Stress increases inflammation as well as cortisol in the body. When this occurs plaque can form in the arteries making it harder for blood to flow. Additionally, stress can raise blood pressure which is also quite damaging to the heart.
Although traumatic events can occur quicker than a blink, handling these moments is your best defense in preventing a heart attack. Unlike everyday stresses like meeting deadlines or relationship conflicts, traumatic events are sudden and hit the heart much harder.
The researchers in the study propose: When dealing with a traumatic event seeking out social support is a good start in combating additional stress. Seeking help, advice or comfort from others is a means of de-stressing, plus social ties are essential to good health. Feelings of isolation are not just bad for your health but they can also make traumatic events worse and increase your heart attack risk further.
Other stress management techniques include meditation, yoga and exercise. These are all effective means to reducing stress and can help you handle the traumatic situation much better.
We know stress is bad for us so keeping it under control is vital for our health. Although you cannot prepare for a traumatic event how you cope with it is what makes a difference to your heart.
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