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Major Stress Raises the Risk for Heart Attacks in Middle Aged Women


I frequently start my day with Charlie Rose, CBS This Morning and I often spot guests that I want to hear more from, like Dr. Tara Narula, cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

Dr. Narula says middle aged and older women who face major stress, increase their odds of a heart attack by more than 65 percent. In Today’s Health, Dr. Narula suggests fighting stress with laughter, meditation, positive self feedback, yoga and deep breathing.

She also suggests fighting heart disease with these additional approaches: Make health a priority. Get seven to eight hours sleep a night. Read food labels. Keep sodium below 1,500 mg a day. Limit processed foods. Eat fresh fruits and veggies. Avoid trans fats and limit saturated fats and cholesterol. Exercise 30 minutes a day. Get help for depression and anxiety.

Ask your obstetrician/gynecologist about possible cardio links. Add cranberries, tea, apples, onions and cocoa to the menu, along with a daily glass of wine, preferably red.

What stress in middle aged and older women looks like

One older woman that I knew was quite intense. She was devoted to her family and her home. One morning she was quite stressed out, and angry over a relative’s repeated demands. As she was sitting at the kitchen table steaming over what he was doing, she felt something like hot oil pour over her head. She was having a heart attack.

That same woman went into rehab after the heart attack, and turned her life around. With the help of a prime hospital rehab team, she learned what stress and anger can do to your heart. After that she learned to take a deep breath when she was angry and to let the anger go.  She realized she could not afford to get that upset again.

She also completely changed her diet, eliminating trans fats, most saturated fats and processed foods. She began eating more fresh veggies, fish, chicken and fruit. She started walking daily and over a period of several months worked her way up to five miles a day. Amazingly, that woman lived to 94, after having a heart attack in her sixties.

If you or someone in your family fit the profile, Dr. Narula’s advice on the heart dangers of anger, stress and depression, along with the positive ways to counterbalance the risk, are certainly worth considering.

As always, start with your doctor on health issues and health questions and maintain regular checkups.


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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Wendy Kenin

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