Stress, Stroke and Heart Disease

Deanne Stein Health Guide June 29, 2006
  • I have forgotten how much work it is to move. My family only moved across town, but it has been so stressful. I bought an older home with that classic colonial look. But with all that character, comes a lot of updating.

    Luckily, the previous owner did most of it. However, as we moved in, a lot of the work is ongoing. For instance, I can’t turn on my air conditioner and stove at the same time, so I’m waiting for the service to be upgraded. The roof still leaks and the basement floods. Everything is being corrected, but I have contractors coming out of my ears. I can’t wait for everything to settle down so I can just relax at home.

    Since I’m dealing with the house problems and working full time, I have felt extremely stressed. I had a recent doctor’s appointment and everything is fine, but I did worry my stress could contribute to further health problems or worse, another stroke.

    My doctor assured me that a one-time stressful event rarely causes a stroke, but that long-term unresolved stress can contribute to high blood pressure. High blood pressure can contribute to a stroke. But there are many things you can do to reduce stress. Unfortunately taking herbal supplements isn’t an option for most stroke survivors who, like me, take the blood thinner Coumadin. That’s because some supplements can reduce the effectiveness of the drug. So, check with your doctor before you start taking vitamins or herbal supplements.

    What you can do is relaxation techniques, exercise or counseling. Another way to reduce stress is through biofeedback. I really knew nothing about this and quite frankly, I don’t think my stress is bad enough to use this. But I thought I would pass it along in case it could help you.

    Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies. Physical therapists use biofeedback to help stroke victims regain movement in paralyzed muscles.

    It works with special biofeedback machines. It seems similar to things we use everyday, like a thermometer or scale. These are machines that give you feedback about your body. Doctors use a biofeedback machine to detect a person’s internal bodily functions with more precision than a person can alone. The machine acts as a sixth sense to what’s going on in your body. One machine I read about picks up electrical signals in the muscles. It triggers a flashing light bulb or a sound to let the patient know their muscles have grown tense. If patients want to relax those tense muscles, they try to slow down the flashing or beeping.

    If you think you might benefit from biofeedback training, you should discuss it with your physician or other health care professional. They may want to conduct tests to make certain that your condition does not require conventional medical treatment first.

    I’ve decided to go the exercise route and plan to start a spinning class at the gym. We’ll see how it works. But if these contractors don’t leave my new house soon, I may look further into biofeedback.

  • http://www.psychotherapy.com/bio.html
    http://www.mindtools.com/stress/RelaxationTechniques/IntroPage.htm
    http://www.imt.net/~randolfi/StressLinks.html