Emotions: The Hidden Risk Factor for Heart Disease

Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Emotions The Hidden Risk Factor for Heart Disease

Early in my career, as part of my effort to understand how our emotions affect heart health, I trained as a psychotherapist. I discovered then that our heart is indeed much more than a pump.

We all know the sayings, “you touched my heart,” “you stole my heart,” and “my heart is broken.” The heart is the only organ in the body that carries such emotionally charged meaning. But more importantly, these sayings are not simply images; they can describe real, physical, medical events in the heart. The “heavy heart” that comes with sadness, for example, can actually lead to chest pain.

Our emotions and our stresses are far bigger risk factors for heart disease than we acknowledge them to be. When stressed, the body floods itself with the hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Over time, an overdose of these hormones can lead to symptoms such as heart palpitations, ulcers, stroke, or heart attack. So, although we may tell ourselves that we are not as upset as we think we are, our emotions show themselves in other ways.

Simply put, the body never lies. Do not neglect the emotional risk factors for heart disease. How can you reduce such stressors? Here are 15 ways to keep emotions from putting your heart at risk.

  1. Explore Your Anger. Anger is the Achilles’ heel of the cardiovascular system—a trigger for serious problems, including a heart attack. Your blood vessels constrict and your blood pressure rises. The electrical currents to your heart become unstable. And if you have arterial plaque, anger is like throwing a match into a can of gasoline. The plaque can rupture, and the resulting clots can kill you. 

    One of the best ways to keep anger from becoming a risk factor for heart disease is to release it. Find a place of solitude and scream, yell, or cry. Talk to a friend or visit a skilled psychotherapist to work on your anger. Or, try twisting towels, hitting tennis balls, or punching pillows. It also helps to ask yourself why you feel angry. Recognize that you cannot be effective when you are possessed by anger. If you understand why you’re coming to such an emotional point, you’ll be better able to identify and avoid those triggers……….
Continue reading

Book of the Month – July 2021: ATOMIC HABITS BY JAMES CLEAR

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by [James Clear]
No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving–every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:
*  make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
*  overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
*  design your environment to make success easier;
*  get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

Continue reading