Mental Stress and Coronary Artery Disease


Research over the past years has suggested that chronic and acute stress are risk factors for the development and progression of coronary heart disease .

Coronary Heart disease (CHD) is the UK’s biggest killer, contributing to the death of at least one in every four men and one in every six women dying from the disease. In the UK, some 300,000 people have a heart attack per year.

Coronary Heart Disease is when our heart’s blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary (heart) arteries. Coronary arteries that becomes narrow due to a build up of atheroma, results in blood supply restriction to our hearts. This may cause angina (chest pains). More importantly, blocked coronary artery can cause a heart attack, also called myocardial infarction.

Of the following risk facts, stress, depression, poor social support, emotional disorders and personality traits, stress is prevalent in all of us, and with increasing work pressure, job insecurity and unhealthy diet of processed foods and sugary drinks have all resulted in increased mental, emotional and physical stress.

What is stress? Stress can be defined on a number of levels, these include:
Stress as a process that occurs when environmental demands exceed the adaptive capacity of an individual.
This process results in physiological and psychological changes that have an impact on health.
The individual’s interpretation of appraisal of “stressors” are highly important in determining responses to stress.

How can we reduce stress? The most effective method is simply learning to “dis-identify” from repetitive and destructive thought patterns, by first recognizing this process. Meditation enables us to recognise our thought and their cyclic patterns. Mindfulness meditation is to learn to focus our attention on present-moment experience in a non-judgmental way, and offers a method of paying attention to the actual experience rather than worrying about the future or the past.

EXERCISE:

Mindfulness Meditation (by Dav Panesar)