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Stress, Heart Attack, and Stroke

Stress, Heart Attack, and Stroke

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | March 7th, 2016

If you or a loved one is experiencing chronic stress and anxiety and are concerned about the impact on heart disease or stroke, I’m going to share with you some insights that can powerfully impact how you go about your healthcare. Research has shown that people who experience heightened levels of stress and anxiety are 4-5 times more likely to have a fatal heart attack or stroke. Now before you get even more anxious because you think you can’t control your outside circumstances, I’ve got some news for you. You’re right! You can’t! BUT there is something you CAN change, and it’s something that you have complete control over.

Before I dive into what you what you can do to prevent these health issues, let me first explain how stress impacts heart disease and stroke. A critical point to realize is that when you get stressed, you increase what are called platelets in your body. Now, why in the world would the body produce more platelets? Well first of all, what are platelets? Platelets are clotting factors. They clot! They create sludge in the body. So why would the body do that under stress?

heartattack1A fundamental fact is stress is that your body believes your brain as if whatever you’re imagining or perceiving is real! In other words, your brain believes whatever you’re thinking about with high emotional intensity, just as if it’s really happening in that moment. If your body chronically perceives your boss, work deadlines, and traffic as real threats – such as a tiger nearby – clotting factors will increase, preparing for a possible bite or claw from this imaginary tiger.

Short-term stress – a brief increase of clotting factors – is not the problem.  It’s the ongoing chronic stress of that “perceived” tiger, i.e. your boss, rush hour traffic, or chronic fighting with your spouse that continues to fuel platelet production.

So think about this. If you have a high amount of platelets (or sludge) going through the heart, what could happen? Heart attack! And what if it goes to the brain? That’s right, stroke! And we often hear, “But I thought he was healthy? He was so stressed, he was Type A, but he got a clean bill of health. I really did think he was healthy.” Have you ever heard this, or maybe even said it?

Under chronic stress, the body also produces hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine that can, over time, damage heart muscles. These hormones scar the blood vessel walls of the heart and brain. This leads to build-up of plaque and those platelets mentioned earlier. These factors are MAJOR risks for heart disease and stroke. Yes, the cause may have been high platelets, cholesterol, or inflammation, but it is not the source.  The source is chronic stress.

In today’s world, more than any other time in history, we are getting overloaded and bombarded with high demands, and the problem is that we aren’t offsetting our stress with recovery. If you keep on pushing and keep on pushing, what’s going to happen? You’re going to overload the nervous system, which is basically the circuit panel of the body.  It’s no different than your home. Think about the electrical circuit panel in your house. If you turn on every single electrical appliance full-blast, with everything cranked up, and then you get an oversized heater and you plug it in and you crank it all the way up, what do you think is doing to happen? That’s right, you’re going to blow a fuse.

As annoying as that is, we have to remember that it’s a protective system. If we did not have that system, what could happen? There could be a fire, or an explosion! We have a very similar system in the body. We won’t explode or catch on fire if something goes wrong, but when you overload nerves of function, your body also goes into a self-protection mode.

It doesn’t start with the big conditions or big diseases. Rather, to protect you, your body starts by shutting down function. It starts to reduce function because there is a high amount of power and demand, or in other words a high amount of stress! If you drive a high amount of power, or high demands also known as stress into the heart, what could happen? You could have a heart attack!

Fortunately, you have the power to make a change. This change is about shifting the way you go about your healthcare. In other words, it’s about shifting your focus from only treating disease, signs, and symptoms to begin treating the source. And the source is always a breakdown in function. In order to support body function, we must begin looking not only at diet, lifestyle, and exercise, but even more importantly at a change in your standard of health AND the mindset behind it.

This mindset is not about changing the external factors of stress, but rather your ability to handle the stressors of life and how you process these experiences in your body. This is not an easy task. But after seeing thousands of patients in my nearly 20 years of clinical practice, I found that this plays a major role in breaking through these conditions. When you re-train your mind to this high standard of health, your health changes for the better!

This standard and mindset is exactly what we use here at the center to help patients break through health conditions that most say are impossible. Utilizing Chinese medical principles that have evolved over 3,000 years combined with 21st century technology such as neurofeedback brain training and biomedical-based acupuncture as well as dietary, herbal, and nutritional therapy based on blood tests, hormone panels, and other diagnostic markers, you have the ability to use the best of all medicines.

If you’d like to find out more about how we can support you in raising your standard of health in addressing specific health concerns, in a safe and effective way, contact our office at (619) 287-4005 to schedule a free consultation with one of our functional medicine specialists where they can answer any questions you have to find out if and how we can help you with your healthcare needs.

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