Due to election stress caused by an unprecedented level of turmoil in the 2016 presidential race, professional women may find themselves, and their hearts, in danger. More than 60 percent of professional women report a high level of stress on an average day, and nearly 20 percent report an acute level of stress in our job stress study. Stress at these levels already increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack, which is one reason workplace stress induced cardiovascular disease is recognized as a global epidemic. Election stress increases these risks.
More than half of American adults are experiencing significant stress as the result of news stories, social media posts, ads, and arguments about the election, according to an American Psychological Association survey. Regardless of party affiliation, this election is ramping up stress levels. For already at-risk professional women, this increase in emotional stress is of particular concern.
Decreased blood flow to the heart, or myocardial ischemia, causes heart attacks. While the decrease in blood flow is often caused by blockages in the arteries leading to the heart, it can also be caused by emotional stress. Women are twice as likely to reduced blood flow to the heart due to stress than men. Even more concerning, physical exertion while angry, or emotionally stressed, can triple the risk of heart attack. The increased pressure on already constricted blood vessels can be deadly. In other words, an intense run may not be the best way to deal with anger or stress created by election coverage or conversation. Paying attention to stress levels and watching for danger signs is critical.
Symptoms of heart attacks in women can be very subtle, but most women report some signs that something is wrong. Women with additional risk factors for heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and smoking should be especially vigilant.
Don’t ignore danger signs such as:
Any of these could be a sign of a heart attack. Play it safe and call 911 to get help right away.
Fortunately, the stress caused by the election is likely temporary. However, the high stress levels of professional women will still need to be addressed. Putting good stress recovery strategies in place now, and paying attention to stress levels, will build good habits for the future.
A top female motivation speaker and author Eliz Greene is ridiculously excited about stress. Surviving a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins propelled Eliz on a mission to share her story to inspire other busy people to pay attention to their health. Eliz is dedicated to leading others on a path to lower stress and great success. Her stress management keynote is a great fit for closing a conference. Find out more at www.ElizGreene.com