“He nearly gave me a heart attack”
When something extremely stressful happens, we almost expect something inside to break.
Fortunately, our declaration is seldom true…….. or is it ?
The difference between stressful moments and stressful lives
Is there a difference ?
Stress levels are usually quantified by the level of cortisol which is measured in one or other body fluid. But, the cortisol that is measured in these fluids, simply reflects the stress at that moment in time.
Heart attack victims have high cortisol levels
If you are having a heart attack – you’re likely to be freaked out and petrified i.e. STRESSED, so hey, surprise surprise, cortisol levels are typically sky high.
But what about your stress levels, yesterday ? last week ? last month ?
The demanding psychotic boss, the continous fighting on the home front, the overdraft at the bank – are these stressors, contributing to heart attacks ?
Hair faithfully records your daily stress
The amount of cortisol floating through your veins is captured in the hair shaft.
On average, hair grows one centimetre a month, so if you look at the cortisol levels in a piece of hair which is 6 cm long, you’re able to go back in time by 6 months.
Stressful lives are a heart attack waiting to happen
Researchers from the University of Western Ontario used hair analysis to wind back the clock and measure stress levels for 3 months prior to a hospital stay.
They studied hair samples (3 cm long) from 112 male adults, who had been admitted to the Meir Medical Centre in Kfar-Saba in Israel. Half of the patients were in hospital because they had suffered a heart attack, the other half were in hospital for something else. In terms of health problems, the heart attack group did have higher cholesterol levels but were very similar from other perspectives.
For the average heart attack victim, the three months prior to the attack had been STRESS FULL. The heart attack victims hair analysis, showed significantly higher cortisol levels than the controls.
Your stressful life could be brewing a heart attack
If you feel like stress is sucking the life out of you – you’re right, it is. Just because you’re soldiering through it doesn’t mean your body is not experiencing it.
Stress can be managed through lifestyle changes and psythotherapy – do something about it, before something inside breaks.Hair cortisol and the risk for acute myocardial infarction in adult men. Stress The International Journal on the Biology of Stress (2011) 14(1): 73-81. David Pereg, Rachel Gow, Morris Mosseri, Michael Lishner, Michael Rieder, Stan Van Uum, Gideon Koren.
Interested in learning more about the chemistry of stress ?
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