Can Managing Stress Prevent Heart Disease in Women during Menopause?

Let’s face it. It’s easy to get stressed out. After all, women are multitaskers who are notorious for continually adding to their already full schedules. You know it’s true. Why else were you talking on the phone this morning while curling your hair and eating breakfast in the bathroom? And remember the woman in the car next to you at the stop light on your way to work? She was putting on her make-up while talking on the phone, eating a donut, and trying to operative a vehicle on a busy highway.

But it’s not as easy as it used to be. Family and work dynamics are changing and your aging body isn’t coping as well as it used to. And if that wasn’t enough, without an invitation, menopause has come banging on your door with hot flashes, brain fog, insomnia, and anxiety.

More than ever, you’ve been burning the candle at both ends as you try to manage it all. It’s no wonder you are feeling stressed out.

Stress and poor choices

Unfortunately, stress can cause you to make poor choices which are detrimental to your heart. Fast food on the way home, drinking too much coffee, soda, and alcohol, smoking to “settle your nerves,” avoiding exercise because you’re already exhausted, taking work to bed – the list goes on and on. You end up feeling awful. Your back hurts, your stomach aches, and you always have a headache. Your weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels are also creeping up. You feel cranky and quick tempered because your emotions are at their max.

Stop. You’ve got to take a deep breath and make some changes. Now. All that stress is taking a toll on your health, including your heart. You’ve got to blow out one end of the candle before you have a heart attack. Literally.

Physical affects of stress

The headaches, back aches, and upset stomach you’ve been experiencing are your body letting you know it’s under too much stress. As your body has been trying to cope with your hectic schedule, it’s been producing extra adrenaline. Your quick temper further triggers production of adrenaline. While it helps you get through the moment, all that adrenaline causes your heart to work harder, putting you at risk for heart disease and a heart attack. It may even lead to a broken heart, medically known stress-induced cardiomyopathy.

That’s right. Stress can cause women to die of a broken heart. The good news is that broken heart syndrome is rare, usually temporary, and treatable. The bad news is that if you don’t take care of yourself and manage stress, you do face the real risk of heart disease, a heart attack, and/or permanent heart damage.

Regroup, recoup, and relax

If you are feeling overwhelmed and the symptoms of menopause are adding to your stress, make an appointment with your doctor. Treating menopause with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or an alternative could be the first step to decreasing your stress levels. You can also ask your doctor for deep breathing exercises, tips for eating healthy, and help with any alcohol or smoking issues. You can start exercising by parking farther from the door, going for a walk during lunch, and making the trip to the mailbox beneficial by lifting your legs and swinging your arms. So what if you look a bit silly – laughter is a good stress reliever!

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.  Reprinted with permission: Can Managing Stress Prevent Heart Disease in Women during Menopause?

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