The Stress-Heart Connection

We have all heard the statistics and we do not like to face them: in Canada, heart disease is the second leading cause of death. Most people know the main recommendations for heart health: eat right, exercise, stop smoking, manage your weight, and so on. However, one of the key areas that often gets missed, is stress management.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), they have known about the link between stress and heart health for thousands of years. In fact, what most of us would identify as symptoms of stress are considered symptoms of “Heart Deficiency” in TCM. Some of these include general anxiety, insomnia, and minor heart palpitations. Chances are You have probably experienced all of these on one stressful occasion or another, and it’s not so bad when it is occasional. However, when these symptoms become part of your “normal” then you know your heart is being taxed.

What are some strategies for managing your stress? First, it is important to identify sources of stress that can be eliminated and create  a plan of action for reducing or getting rid of those. Unfortunately, there are some stressors that just can’t be eliminated: particular relationships, work stressors, certain commitments, and so on. For these, a combination of techniques are useful including deep breathing, mindfulness practices, talking out your stress with a friend, exercising, and targeted supplementation with herbs or nutrients.

Another excellent way of supporting your heart through life’s stressors is acupuncture. When working within the TCM paradigm, Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) are trained to diagnose and treat each person with an individualized set of acupuncture points in order to ensure maximum effect. Your ND can also help you come up with a stress management plan, including appropriate supplementation if indicated.

Don’t let stress get to your heart –close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. Your heart will thank you for it!