T.E. Vallabhan, MD, FACC
We all know it’s imperative to keep ourselves healthy through exercise, eating right, and warding off viruses and infections. However, one of the most overlooked stressors on our hearts is—anxiety.
According to the American Heart Association, “More research is needed to determine how stress contributes to heart disease — the leading killer of Americans. But stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk: high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity, and overeating. Some people may choose to drink too much alcohol or smoke cigarettes to “manage” their chronic stress; however, these habits can increase blood pressure and may damage artery walls.
And your body’s response to stress may be a headache, back strain, or stomach pains. Stress can also zap your energy, wreak havoc on your sleep and make you feel cranky, forgetful and out of control. A stressful situation sets off a chain of events. Your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. These reactions prepare you to deal with the situation — the “fight or flight” response.
When stress is constant, your body remains in high gear off and on for days or weeks at a time. Although the link between stress and heart disease isn’t clear, chronic stress may cause some people to drink too much alcohol which can increase your blood pressure and may damage the artery walls.”
If you find that you are feeling more stressed than normal it’s important to take time for yourself, relax and do something that brings you joy, even if that’s simply taking a nap!
Dr. Vallabhan’s Tips to Relieve Stress
Take Time for Yourself—Read a book, take a warm Epsom salt bath, get a massage, take a relaxing drive, take a nap, meditate, pray, or simply watch your favorite program on TV (not an action packed thriller) can be very relaxing and relieve some stress.
Exercise—Increasing cardiovascular exercise is critical for oxygen intake, circulation, and increasing both brain and heart health. It can also be a wonderful outlet to release frustration and lower blood pressure. People that exercise regularly, have significantly lower stress and cortisol levels. It’s important to speak to your cardiologist or primary care doctor before embarking on any new exercise program. For those with cardiovascular disease, it’s well known that swimming or water aerobics are exceptional options to safely increase cardio without as much vigor as with land exercising. Also, low impact exercise like walking, Yoga or Pilates are also beneficial ways to get your cardio in without overdoing it.
Don’t Ignore Your Symptoms—If you have any issues with anxiety, stress, PTSD or changes in your heart rate, blood pressure or are experiencing tightness or palpitations, don’t ignore your symptoms. If stress or cardiac issues are left untreated, they can create exacerbated conditions or even death. Talk to your physician right away if you notice any changes in your health.
It’s your heart.
It should be personal.
And that’s how I treat it.
Dr. Thiruvallur Vallabhan is devoted to keeping your heart at its healthiest. Dr. Vallabhan is a Board Certified Cardiologist, and his mission is to provide The Villages and its surrounding communities with the highest quality cardiac care in a welcoming environment. He and his staff are dedicated to fulfilling the specific cardiac needs of each patient.
To find out more information on the Dr. Vallabhan, your local specialists in the diseases of the heart, veins, and arteries, please call (352) 750-2040 or visit them online at, Drvcardio.com
Rolling Oaks Professional Park
929 N US HWY 441, Suite 201
Lady Lake, FL 32159