I'm a pretty stressed out person by nature. Should I be worried that it will affect my heart? -- Campbell O., Chicago, IL
There’s no question that stress can affect your whole body, including your heart. There’s evidence that chronic stress, caused by factors like loneliness, depression, and repeated angry episodes (such as having to deal with a bad boss every day) can increase inflammation, elevate levels of harmful white blood cells, and possibly even cause bacteria to damage the blood vesselsof the heart. There’s also a condition called “broken heart syndrome,” which is a real heart attack that occurs as a result of sudden stress.
So, yes, you should take stress seriously, and do everything you can to protect yourself against it. The best way to start? As corny as it may sound, decide to really enjoy your life, and take steps to make sure it’s filled with love, forgiveness, and gratitude. And meditation, yoga, and regular exercise don’t hurt, either!