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Stress and Cardiovascular Disease
Is There a Relationship?

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What is Stress, And Why Are People Confused About It?
Strategies for Coping With Stress || Heart Attack Risk Factors
Recommended Reading

Understanding the relationship between stress and cardiovascular disease isn't easy. Is Type-A behavior unhealthy? Does stress cause your blood pressure to rise? Can stress cause you to have a heart attack? While differing opinions exist about these and other issues, research has shown that stress does play a role in many cardiovascular disorders.

Here's What We Know

While our knowledge about stress and cardiovascular diseases is incomplete, most experts agree on the following points:

Thus, if you've recently had a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular condition, it is reasonable to assume that: 1) stress may have played a role in causing your illness to occur; and 2) even if it didn't, you and your family can still benefit from learning how to deal with stress more effectively.

What Is Stress, And Why Are People Confused About It?

In recent years, several definitions of human stress have been proposed. These definitions differ, however, causing a great deal of confusion.

One way you can avoid this confusion is to always remember that "stress" is just a word! It is merely a term human beings use to stand for hundreds of specific problems in our lives.

When we are feeling angry, frustrated, worried or depressed, for example, we often say we are "stressed." When we have too many pressures, responsibilities, or work-related demands, we also use the very same term. We also use the word "stress" to refer to a wide range of physical problems and symptoms that occur within our bodies. Thus, whenever we say we are suffering from "stress," what we really mean is we are having problems or conflicts--emotional, physical, financial, etc.-- that are painful or troubling to us.

By the same token, when people say "I don't have any stress," they have merely forgotten that "stress" is just a word. If you ask instead if they ever have problems in their lives, most people would admit that they frequently do.

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Strategies For Coping With Stress

There are three basic strategies for coping with stress (other than ignoring or denying your problems). These are:

  1. The Band-Aid Approach--using alcohol, drugs (prescription or illegal), cigarettes, food, sex, or anything else to temporarily relieve the symptoms of "stress." While these coping strategies "work" in the short-run, they have harmful long-term effects which make them undesirable.
  2. The Stress Management Approach---using diet, exercise, meditation, biofeedback, or other relaxation exercises to cope with your "stress." While these coping strategies have definite advantages over band-aid methods, they still focus mainly on just the symptoms of your problems.
  3. The Ideal Approach----making stress disappear, quickly and naturally, by modifying or correcting its underlying causes. While this is by far the best way to deal with problems in life, most people fail to use this approach because they incorrectly understand what causes their stress to occur.

In recent years, new insights about the causes of human stress have emerged. These new insights focus on the difference between obvious and non-obvious causes. Obvious causes of stress include the things that happen to us and around us--i.e. the things we easily see. Non-obvious causes include conversations and behavior patterns that become triggered within our bodies. These include expectations, judgements, evaluations, needs for control, needs for approval, and many others.

The more you learn to recognize and deal with these non-obvious causes of your problems, the less stress, tension, and physical ailments you will likely experience.

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Heart Attack Risk Factors

Normal Values/Ranges

          BP   systolic        100-130

               diastolic       60-80

Total Cholesterol 120-200 (ideal)

HDL Cholesterol <100-130 (ideal) HDL Cholesterol>45 or higher (ideal)

Blood Glucose/Sugar 60-100

Triglycerides <150 < 150

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Recommended Reading

The 14 Day Stress Cure: A New Approach For Dealing With Stress That Can Change Your Life by Morton C. Orman, M.D. (Breakthru Publishing/TRO Productions, 1991, $24.95)

Of all the books written about stress, this one may well be the best. Voted an outstanding book-of-the-year by the National Association of Independent Publishers, this easy-to-read paperback is full of wonderful new insights and practical coping strategies.

The 14 Day Stress Cure teaches you how to pinpoint the "hidden" (non-obvious) causes of human stress. It helps you better understand the hidden causes anger, frustration, worry, guilt and other negative emotions. It also helps you prevent or eliminate relationship conflicts, reduce your stress at work, cope with the stress of having an illness, and deal more successfully with other everyday problems.

You won't find many tips about "managing" stress in this remarkable self-help guide. While numerous books have been written about stress management, this one takes a different approach. Written by a practicing physician who teaches doctors, nurses, and other health professionals how to eliminate stress, The 14 Day Stress Cure is a book you and every member of your family should definitely read.

You can order copies of this award-winning book by contacting

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