Stress and Your Heart
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Stress and Your Heart. Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. Today’s Topics. What is stress? How do you know that your stressed? How is stress connected to heart disease? How do you manage stress?. What is stress?. The way we react to change Stress is constant

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Stress and your heart

Stress and Your Heart

Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

Today s topics

Today’s Topics

  • What is stress?

  • How do you know that your stressed?

  • How is stress connected to heart disease?

  • How do you manage stress?

What is stress

What is stress?

  • The way we react to change

  • Stress is constant

  • Stress can be positive or negative

  • The reaction to stress is more important than the stress itself

The stresses of life

The Stresses of Life

What are the signs of stress

What are the signs of stress?

  • Physical

  • Emotional

  • Mental

  • Relational

Fight or flight

Fight or Flight

  • Life-threatening situation

  • Body prepares to fight the threat or to run from it

Fight or flight and your heart

Fight or Flight and Your Heart

  • Blood pressure, heart rate, breathing increases

  • Glucose, triglycerides, fatty acids pumped into blood for fuel

  • Liver becomes less efficient at clearing cholesterol from blood

  • Kidneys shut down which prevents loss of water and thickens the blood

Chronic stress

Chronic Stress

  • Usually the Fight or Flight response turns off when the danger has passed

  • But some stresses are ongoing and arise in situations we can neither “fight nor flee”

  • The fight or flight response wears the body down

Chronic stress1

Chronic Stress

  • Long term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems

  • Chronic stress can suppress your immune system and increase your risk for

    heart disease, depression

    and other physical illnesses

Holmes schedule of recent experiences

Holmes Schedule of Recent Experiences

EventLife Change Units

Death of a spouse100

Divorce 75

Marriage 50

Retirement 45

Change in financial status 40

Outstanding personal achievement 35

Change in residence 30

Change in social activities 20

Vacation 15

Christmas season 10

Holmes schedule of recent experiences1

Holmes Schedule of Recent Experiences


150 - 199 Slight Risk

200 - 299 Moderate Risk

› 300High Risk

The higher your score, the higher the likelihood of incurring some form of illness within the next year. High scores are moderated by your ability to manage your stress.

Danger signs

Danger Signs

  • Depressed

  • Angry - Hostile

  • Lonely or isolated

Depression and heart disease

Depression and Heart Disease

  • People who experience symptoms of depression are 40 % more likely to develop cardiac disease

  • People who are depressed and have a heart attack are 4x more likely to die

  • As many as 65% of heart attack patients report symptoms of depression

Type a personality

Type A Personality

  • In the 1970’s researchers introduced the concept of the Type A Personality and its link to heart disease

  • Type A’s were described as always in a hurry, hostile, competitive, impatient - and more likely to develop heart disease

  • Current research is focusing on specific traits of the Type A - hostility and time pressure - as risk factors for heart disease

Social supports

Social Supports

  • Research has shown that people who have close friendships experience fewer stress symptoms than those without close friends

  • Social support is related to good coronary artery disease outcome

  • Having friends won’t cure heart disease but not having friends can increase your risk of dying after a cardiac event

How do you manage stress

How do you manage stress?

  • Stress management works best when it is a lifestyle and not a response to a particular event

  • There are hundreds of techniques, strategies and self-help books out there but if you only turn to them when you are completely overwhelmed they will have limited effect

  • Preventing stress from becoming overwhelming is the key!

Stress management strategies

Stress Management Strategies

To manage stress, everyone should have:

A type of exercise – to discharge energy

Workout at the gym

Walk outside


Play a sport

Stress management strategies1

Stress Management Strategies

To manage stress, everyone should have:

Some form of relaxation – to calm yourself

Structured Relaxation

Listen to music

Watch the sunset

Stress management strategies2

Stress Management Strategies

To manage stress, everyone should have:

A way to release emotions

Talk with family or friends

Keep a journal



Stress management strategies3

Stress Management Strategies

To manage stress, everyone should have:

Some connection with others

Spend time with family & friends

Walk a dog in the park

Learn a new hobby


Stress management techniques 101

Stress ManagementTechniques 101

  • Change the situation

    • Avoid, Be Assertive, Delegate

    • Manage your time

  • Change your body’s response

    • Relaxation Techniques, Avoid chemicals

    • Get enough sleep

  • Change your mind

    • Distract, Look at the big picture

    • Talk yourself out of being upset

    • Accept there are things you can’t change

  • Find the support that you need

    Find the Support That You Need

    • Talk to your family and friends

    • Talk to your doctor or other health care provider

    • Other Resources – books, websites, counselling services

    Stress and your heart

    Kerry Charuk, Psychological Associate

    Cardiac Rehabilitation Program

    Sudbury Regional Hospital

    705 671-6600 ext. 2974

    [email protected]

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