Working women at risk for stress-induced heart issues

The results showed that women who were afraid of getting fired are more prone to high cholesterol levels, hypertension, and obesity.

Published: 24th October 2019 06:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th October 2019 06:36 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Arecent landmark study conducted at Harvard University, which included over 17,000 female medical professionals, found that women who have highly stressful work lives have a 40% more chance of contracting a heart disease when compared to their less-stressed out peers. The results showed that women who were afraid of getting fired are more prone to high cholesterol levels, hypertension, and obesity.

Possible mechanisms
The human body is naturally programmed to respond to life-threatening situations. The brain sparks off a cascade of hormones and chemicals that speeds up your heart rate and breathing, elevates your blood pressure and boosts the glycogen supply to your muscles. On the downside, the body is not very good at differentiating between imminent perils and less pronounced instances of ongoing stress, like job strain, financial difficulties, or anxiety about problems that haven’t occurred yet. 
Stress triggers inflammation, which results in the narrowing of the coronary arteries thus increasing the possibilities of a heart attack. Constant stress also makes it difficult to maintain healthy habits, such as following a good diet, getting enough exercise, abstaining from smoking, and getting adequate sleep. 
Lifestyle modifications to minimise risk

It is important to understand that the stress caused by little control and excessive demands is not just restricted to the workplace. Women juggle a lot of concurrent jobs, like caring for aging parents and children while working outside and sharing greater responsibility in running the household. 

Yoga is the best preventive course
Yoga is one of the best prevention and health promotion practices that can be adopted in our daily lives. Yoga helps bring the body and mind in sync with each other; it allows the practitioner, better control over his/her mind. In a nutshell, yoga is an effective counter to stress and a highly useful mind relaxation technique that promotes a sense of well-being. Yoga also helps prevent spasms in blood vessels by tackling stress and bringing down blood pressure.

Yogic kriyas like kunjal, jalaneti and AnulomaViloma ensure that your blood remains free from toxins and acidic substances improve the circulation and strengthen the cardiovascular system. Similarly, yoga asanas such as hasta uttanasana, veerabhadrasana, and ardhamatsyen drasana are good for your heart, reduce depression and anxiety, and improve the quality of sleep.

Go for a Sattvic diet
A sattvic diet is largely plant-based consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, lentils, natural sugars as well as health-promoting herbs. Herbs such as kava root, lemon balm, lavender, and chamomile help relieve anxiety, sleeplessness, restlessness, and other stress-related symptoms such as muscle spasms and poor digestion. Similarly, cinnamon, garlic, turmeric, ginger, basil, black seed etc help the body fight inflammation and oxidative stress.

Adopt relaxation techniques
It is important to fight off stress on a daily basis by adopting stress-busting practices such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, walking and cycling in a green space and indulging in relaxing hobbies such as gardening or painting. Adopting mindfulness in every activity also helps keep the mind away from anxiousness about the future.

– The author is Dy CMO, Jindal Naturecure Institute


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