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What's Up Magazine

Work + Stress = Heart Disease

Feb 18, 2011 10:46PM ● By Anonymous

In the meantime, Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch has a report on the subject that really hits home: On-the-job stress may be one of the key causes of heart disease in women. Using data from the Women’s Health Study, Harvard researchers showed that women with highly stressful jobs are 40 percent more likely to develop heart disease than their less-stressed colleagues.

According to Women’s Health Watch, the body is programmed to react to life-threatening stress with a “fight-or-flight” response: the brain triggers chemicals and hormones that speed the heart rate, quicken breathing, and boost the amount of energy supplied to muscles. Unfortunately, the body does a poor job of discriminating between grave, imminent dangers and ongoing sources of stress, such as financial difficulties, job strain, and even worries about potential problems. When the fight-or-flight response is chronically “on,” the body suffers.

They suggest these stress busters:

•    Foster mutually supportive relationships.
•    Get regular exercise. It strengthens the heart, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves sleep.
•    Practice relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing.
•    Seek help from a mental health professional.

(But I can’t do any of that right now because I’ve got two stories due for the print edition of What’s Up?, I have to train a new intern, copyedit 20 pages, meet a deadline to send another special publication to the printer, and find photography for a cover. Oh, and I’ve got to get to the repair shop before it closes because my driver’s side window won’t roll down.)