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Work Your Body, Work Your Mind

It took me a long time to admit that I wasn’t successfully coping with my depression and anxiety on my own. It took even longer to come up with a plan to fight back against my own...

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Dr. Matthew DeVane

Dr. Matthew DeVane

Cardiologist and researcher

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Stop Stressing for Your Heart's Sake

Since everyone responds to stress so differently, it has been difficult for researchers to show a direct link to its ill effects on the heart. Many examples illustrate the connection: Hospitals are flooded with heart attack victims after a jarring disaster, such as an earthquake and spouses who suddenly lose their loved ones are more likely to suffer heart attacks. Enough of these examples have popped up that researchers are calling for doctors to include stress screenings for those who are at high risk for heart disease.

Research reports on stress and heart disease and heart-related fatalities have flooded medical journals during the last couple of months. One Canadian report found that first-time heart-attack patients who returned to chronically stressful jobs, were twice as likely to have a second attack as patients who found their work to be relatively stress-free. In another British study, researchers said that those with rocky intimate relationships had a 34% higher risk of heart disease than those with more stable relationships.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t already noticed, doctors’ time with patients is growing shorter and shorter. That means they have less time to ask you more probing questions about areas of your life that might be causing you stress. There is no specific proven treatment for stress reduction that doctors can recommend. Meditation and yoga are the latest panacea for almost any health diagnosis, but their effectiveness has yet to be scientifically proven.

Do you find meditation and or yoga helpful for reducing stress? What other techniques have helped you? In today’s hectic world, how can you effectively communicate the amount of stress you experience to your doctor? [Time]

Posted: 7/22/08