Today’s Star Columnist: Emotions key to heart health

UGC Columnist Dr Mary Wren.''Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.
UGC Columnist Dr Mary Wren.''Dr Mary Wren has worked in Sheffield for 20 years. She offers advice on health issues every Saturday.
0
Have your say

September 29 was World Heart Day which gave us chance to think about keeping our hearts healthy.

I imagine people are fed up of being told what to eat and how to live – but it is good to remind ourselves of a few things and ask if we want to do something about them.

We know that there are certain physical things that are not good for our hearts. Smoking damages the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle with oxygen so the heart can’t pump effectively. High cholesterol levels can cause clogging up of those blood vessels. Raised blood pressure puts strain on the plumbing system of our bodies and diabetes is linked with heart disease. So we can’t get away from the fact that what we put in to our bodies has an impact.

I have spoken to two men recently who were overweight and had high blood pressure. They have both decided to change their diets – less sugar, beer, processed fatty foods. They have started walking every day and one has bought a bike. Both men have lost around two stone, feel fitter than they have for ages and their blood pressure has dropped to a normal range. Both men are protecting their hearts while feeling better on a daily basis. We have a choice!

The area that is less known is about emotional things that can damage our hearts. We use speech without thinking that shows a link. We say people “died of a broken heart” or “my heart missed a beat” when anxious. When we are angry or anxious our body chemistry changes – our adrenaline level goes up and cortisone increases. Our heart rate increases, our muscles tense, the blood pressure goes up. There has been interesting research in America showing a link between unresolved anger in men and heart disease including heart attacks. The link appeared to be as strong as having a high cholesterol or smoking.

So to keep our hearts healthy we may need to address some emotional things as well. Maybe we need to consider getting help with anger or consider the benefits of forgiveness. Maybe we need to choose to let go of grudges we carry – for our own sake. Maybe we need to acknowledge our anxiety and stress and speak to someone about it – our doctors or even just a friend. Our heart health depends on it.