High Stress: It’s Like Smoking Five Cigarettes Per Day, Says Researcher
It’s impossible to avoid stressful situations, whether at work or in your private life. But that doesn’t mean you have to feel burdened by the stress. If you do, there’s a good chance that those negative emotions are hurting your heart, according to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
So ask yourself, “Are you stressed?”
When researchers asked nearly 120,000 adults (age 43 to 74) that very question, and then tracked the subjects for 14 years, they found that those who initially felt the most stressed were 27 percent more likely to be diagnosed or die from coronary heart disease (CHD).
“While it is generally accepted that stress is related to heart disease, this is the first meta-analytic review of the association of perceived stress and incident CHD,” said study author Donald Edmondson, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, in a press release.
CHD is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart, caused by a buildup of plaque in the arteries. More than 385,000 people die from CHD each year. Edmondson states that the increased risk from a high level of perceived stress is equivalent to a 50 mg/dl jump in LDL (bad) cholesterol or smoking five cigarettes per day.
To help tackle a high stress level, start by hitting the gym, since a sense of improving oneself can initiate more positive thoughts. And in the office, try utilizing these tips from the American Academy of Physicians:
- Don’t worry about things you can’t control.
- Solve the little problems. This can help you gain a feeling of control.
- Prepare to the best of your ability for events you know may be stressful, such as a big meeting or presentation that you’ll be leading.
- Try to look at change as a positive challenge, not as a threat.
- Work to resolve conflicts with other people.
- Talk with a trusted friend, family member, or co-worker about your stress.
- Set realistic goals and avoid over-scheduling.
Still stressed? Read our complete guide to reducing stress at the workplace.