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CALM DOWN! -- Medical researchers have found that extreme anger can trigger a heart attack. They interviewed over 1600 patients after they suffered heart attacks and found that angry outbursts potentially doubled their risk of the attacks.
ANYONE FOR QUILTING? -- Sewing may help relieve your stress. One study found women lowered their blood pressure and heart rates when they sewed. Knitting and needlework may provide the same benefits.
RELIEVING STRESS -- Breathe slowly and deeply. Three or four deep breaths provide the most immediate feeling of calmness anywhere, anytime.
STRESS AND SUDDEN CARDIAC DEATH -- Researchers from the Nagoya University's School of Medicine in Japan have recently published, in the European Heart Journal, a paper entitled "Sudden Death in the Working Population; a Collaborative Study in Central Japan: Aim, Methods, Results, Conclusion." The focus was on stress on the job, stress from certain weekend activities and the correlation of stress with "sudden death. " Sudden death is defined as death occurring within the first hour of onset of symptoms. It accounts for over half of all deaths from acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).
The study included over 196,000 middle aged employees, all working in central Japan. The researchers' conclusion: "Mental stress, particularly that induced by changes in the social environment, seems to be a key factor (triggering sudden death) among persons in their prime." Of note is the fact that rates from the 1995 economic depression are more than double those of the 1991 economic boom. Peak number of deaths occurred in the month of April, the start of the Japanese business year. Other peaks occurred on weekends and in the early morning hours. Only 17 percent of sudden deaths occurred in the workplace. The authors speculated that the practice of "binge drinking," along with "crowded resorts and roads" may be causative factors in the increased frequency of sudden deaths on weekends.
The authors noted other studies showing coronary artery spasm may be common in Japanese men of middle age and may account for the circadian late night or early morning patterns. Earlier studies have noted the incidence of coronary artery spasm is relatively high in Japanese compared to Caucasians. Coronary spasm occurs most frequently in times of rest, between midnight and early morning, and does not usually occur during daytime exercise. During such spasms, the coronary artery smooth muscle may undergo sudden intense localized contraction, rupturing and extruding vulnerable plaque. This in turn may lead to angina, arrhythmia, acute myocardial infarction and/or sudden death. Cigarette smoking is a major risk factor. As a component in stabilizing heart rhythm and reducing the frequency of coronary artery spasm, the investigators recommended regular exercise.
ANGRY MEN: COUNT TO TEN! -- We've all heard folk advice on expressing anger: "Let it all hang out," express your "primal scream," etc. Many have opined that outward displays of hostility or aggression provide healthy outlets for relief of tension and anger.
A recent study in the American Heart Association's scientific publication Stroke, calls this advice strongly into question, at least for some individuals. Dr. Susan A. Everson and colleagues from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, in a study entitled "Anger Expression and Incident Stroke: Prospective Evidence from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Study," note middle-aged men who regularly and outwardly express their anger have more than two times the risk of stroke. The study involved over 2,000 men in Finland, and the conclusions were made after statistically eliminating other risk factors such as age, smoking, socioeconomic status, etc. For men with a history of heart disease, the risk of stroke was six times that of those with alternative means for expressing anger, such as "holding it in."
One component of anger control may be to avoid routine trigger situations. If the daily rush hour traffic jam regularly provokes road rage, a simple change of schedule may avoid the problem. It may have been Thomas Jefferson who gave the advice: "When angry, count to ten before you speak; when very angry, a hundred." Then again, Mark Twain's version was, "When angry, count four; when very angry, swear."
DEPRESSION - Change your physiology. One of the best ways to help with depression is to change your physical state. You can do the following:
- Sit or stand up straight.
- Throw your shoulders back.
- Hold your head up high and look up with your eyes.
- Put a big smile on your face and breath deeply.
- Think about something good in your life, if you can't think of something good than think about what could be good.
- Change your Pattern! - If you notice that you have a pattern of certain things which put you in a depressed state than change or interrupt the pattern.
- Give yourself more energy.
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