Enron's Ken Lay Dies, Was It Stress?
News Reports Cite Possible Heart Attack
Long-Term Stress & Heart RisksWhere Does Lay Fit?
If Lay had had a heart attack or died suddenly upon hearing his verdict,
that scenario would have qualified as acute stress. If his legal case had
lasted 10 years, that would fit long-term stress, Myerburg says.
But Lay's death doesn't quite fit either pattern. "It's hard to know
where to put that," Myerburg says, calling Lay's legal ordeal an
"intermediate" length of stress.
Enron entered bankruptcy in 2001. And Lay's criminal case lasted several
years, but it was "not long enough to talk about development of heart
disease," and "not long enough to develop atherosclerosis,"
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a major heart risk.
Doctors don't know exactly how stress affects atherosclerosis or heart
Long-Term Stress & Heart RisksCoping With Stress
Getting a thorough checkup can help gauge your heart risk. And since stress
is part of life, learning to cope with it may help.
Handling stress can be "rough," Myerburg says. Acute stresses often
can't be avoided, and long-term ones may be hard to budge.
Myerburg says he often advises people to see psychiatrists or psychologists
to help them cope with situational stresses. He calls long-term stress a
"quality of life issue."
The following strategies may help you cope with stress:
Eat and drink sensibly. Overindulging in alcohol and food
adds to stress.
Assert yourself. Learn to stand up for your rights and
beliefs while respecting those of others.
Stop smoking. Nicotine acts as a stimulant and brings on
more stress symptoms.
Exercise regularly. It's a stress-buster. Get your
doctor's approval before starting a new fitness program.
Relax every day. Techniques include meditation, deep
breathing, biofeedback, and mental imagery.
Take responsibility. Control what you can and leave behind
what you cannot control.
Cut causes of stress. Take good care of yourself, don't
overload your schedule, set priorities, and skip hassles, such as bad, traffic
Examine your values and live by them. Doing so may make
you feel better, even under stress.
Set realistic goals and expectations. It's OK -- and
healthy -- to admit you cannot be 100% successful at everything all at
Build your self-esteem. Feeling overwhelmed? Remind
yourself of what you do well.
Get enough rest. The time you spend resting should be long
enough to relax your mind as well as your body.