Stress Poses Heart Health Dangers For Women

Melissa Tracy, MD, cardiologist at Rush University Medical Center in ChicagoBy Melissa Tracy, MD

Women tend to not only take on their own stress, but also that of their families. This compounds the potential health hazards that include both psychological and physical issues.

Women tend to use food to suppress the impact of stress, resulting in increased weight and decreased exercise. When our weight increases and we have decreased exercise tolerance, the health-related heart risk factors can develop or worsen: Our blood pressure increases, cholesterol increases and the risk of developing diabetes increases.

Obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are the leading risk factors for developing heart and cerebral vascular disease, such as a heart attack and stroke. Women of all ages are at risk, even those who still have not undergone menopause. If a woman is postmenopausal, then her risk is greater.

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