High levels of the stress hormone cortisol damage your heart. 

High cortisol levels caused by stress hurt your heart and eat away your physical health. Processing cortisol out of your body is essential to feeling better and protecting your health. 

The video in honor of Red Dress Day, which celebrates the advancement of treatment, awareness, and research of women’s heart disease, explains how cortisol impacts heart health and tips to decrease the impact.

The following excerpt from Stress-Proof Your Life describes why stress is the “Powerball” heart disease risk factor:

High levels of the stress hormone cortisol cause thicker blood, higher blood pressure, and increased pulse, which all make the heart work harder. Prolonged high stress weakens the heart and doubles the risk of heart attack and stroke. Also, high cortisol levels are related to the increased risk of cancer and heart disease, along with other endocrine and immune systems conditions. Heart disease, however, is the number one cause of death for women and men of all ages. More people die of heart disease than the next seven causes, including all kinds of cancer combined. Many young people find themselves diagnosed with coronary artery disease, heart rhythm issues, or high-risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, cholesterol, or blood sugar.  So, yes, stress can hurt your heart.

That is the bad news, but there is good news. 

Keeping my heart healthy and protecting it from stress aren’t abstract ideas for me—they’re literally life-or-death skills. When I had a massive heart attack at the young age of 35 while 7 months pregnant with twins, I underwent five hours of open-heart surgery after delivering my daughters prematurely via emergency C-section. The surgeon repaired my heart, but a small part of it doesn’t beat anymore. Even though my pregnancy caused the heart attack, I am at a higher risk of having another, so controlling my risk factors is essential. I can manage my diet and be physically active, but stress is an exponential multiplier of risk I simply can’t afford. To reduce my heightened risk of having another heart attack, I’ve spent the 17 years since then honing practical and implementable strategies to manage stress for myself and the thousands of audience members and readers I reach each year. 

Your body is naturally equipped to process cortisol out of your system if you let it. 

A stress-proof person more effectively processes cortisol, reducing it to normal levels, which in turn protects the heart, helps the person feel better, and even allows the brain to function better. 

Stress is the Powerball of heart disease risk factors. 

One of the most challenging things to explain is how heart disease risk factors don’t just add up; they multiply exponentially. 

Think about it like this: stress is the Powerball of risk factors. It makes your risk exponentially higher. This Powerball effect is your physical stress impact. It is how likely your stress level is to hurt your heart.

Cortisol isn’t the enemy. 

Life without the zing of excitement of cortisol would be boring. Stress-proof people use the cortisol reaction to respond to stressors (both good and bad) and then efficiently process it out of their bodies.

Learning to help your body process cortisol is essential to a long and healthy life. 

How do you determine the physical impact of your stress or the size of your Powerball? 

Evaluating stress’s impact on your physical health is essential to reducing it. I have a video series to walk through the Stress Level index in Stress-Proof Your Life. This assessment will measure your stress level, and the results indicate how likely that stress level is to hurt your heart. Check it out here: TestStressNow.com


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