The Cardiovascular-Stress Connection
Statistically speaking, the chances of dying from cardiovascular disease are 2
out of 5. In the U.S. alone, almost 652,091 people die from this relatively new
and preventable disease—that’s about 27% of all U.S. deaths. The six risk factors
for heart disease and stroke, which fall under the label of cardiovascular disease,
include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, current smoking, physical
inactivity, and obesity. And if there were to be a seventh risk factor added, it should
include being stressed out. Approximately 37% of adults reported having two or
more of these six risk factors. In 2005 alone, deaths from cardiovascular disease
accounted for 30% of the deaths worldwide. By 2015, almost 20 million people will
die from cardiovascular disease. These are projected to remain the single leading
causes of death.2 The good news is that the risk of cardiovascular disease can be
reduced by taking steps to prevent and control the adverse risk factors.
Scientific experts are continually learning more about stress and related illnesses.
Stress has been proven to cause illness, increase physical symptoms of discomfort
and illness, and lengthen recovery time. At the very least, 50 percent of all general
medical patients are suffering from stress-related problems. Stress impacts health
by lowering our resistance to disease and making us more vulnerable to illness.
Our body responds to emotional stress the same way it reacts to physical danger.
When we feel the effects of chronic stress, our health can be compromised by our
primitive fight or flight response that produces stress hormones even when we are
not really in immediate danger. Stress activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal
axis (HPA), initiating events that increase circulating cortisol. Elevated circulating
cortisol inhibits the reproductive, growth hormone, and thyroid functions. Normal
cortisol secretion peaks in the early morning, then declines with a peak in the
afternoon. When this normal cycle is disrupted, symptoms can include low energy
between 3 and 4 p.m., difficulty waking in the morning, anxiety, fatigue unrelieved
by rest, salt or sugar cravings, dark circles under the eyes, decreased libido, increased
effort required for daily tasks, insomnia, and depressed mood.1 Approximately
half of all Americans report that stress has a negative impact on both their
personal and professional lives. Experts now confirm that stress is a significant
risk factor for cardiovascular disease, particularly in conjunction with one or
more other risk factors. Chronic life stress and anxiety increase the risk of heart
disease and stroke.
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Natural Benefits for Life
While many Americans often turn to over-hyped “quick fix” pills that rarely deliver,
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even today. While conventional medicine may not readily recognize these natural
medicines, it is interesting to note that over one-fourth of today’s prescription drugs
contain constituents directly derived from irreplaceable plant resources. Roughly
125 chemical substances from appropriately 100 different plants are used in hospital
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over 50% of all drug actives would be derived directly from plants even today. The
word drug, comes from the ancient Dutch word, to dry plant—and they are still one
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we understand and appreciate the role that nature plays for actually
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