The wild stock market ride, rising foreclosure rates, and increasing layoffs may give you a queasy feeling in your stomach, but it’s your heart that is really at increased risk during a recession, cardiologists say.
Because of the stress that often comes with a recession, it’s important to take extra care of your heart’s health.
By Susan Ince
The brutal truth: When a woman suffers a heart attack, she is more likely than a man to die, be permanently disabled, or have a second attack within a year. "We could do a lot to give women longer lives and better-quality lives if we could help them recognize heart problems before the first attack," says Jean C. McSweeney, Ph.D., R.N., nurse researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. In an award-winning research project, she interviewed hundreds of heart...
Although a recession does not kill tens of thousands of people in a single catastrophic event, it harms health in the long run. The consequences of dealing with financial uncertainties can be devastating, experts say.
So what can you do to protect your health during the recession? Plenty. And you can do it with just a little extra effort -- and very little money.
1. Look the other way
Limit your exposure to the bad news as much as possible. There’s no benefit, experts say, to monitoring your 401(k) gains or losses on a daily basis. Ditto for your other investments. Listening to each new bit of news of how alleged scammers like Bernie Madoff made off with investors’ money only stresses us more.
We may not think of chemicals when it comes to matters of the heart, but much of the way the heart responds to stress comes down to body chemistry, explains Cam Patterson, MD, chief of the division of cardiology at the University of North Carolina Medical Center in Chapel Hill. And several different chemical molecules can harm us as a result of stress.
Our bodies react to stress by producing hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Especially for those already at risk for heart disease, the results of an outpouring of stress hormones can be deadly -- or at least risky. They can build up over time, with effects that lead to damage of arterial walls and weakening plaque that may already be in a vessel.
“They make the plaques more likely to explode,” Patterson says.