Stress, PTSD and our Heart

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A growing body of compelling scientific evidence is demonstrating a link between mental and emotional attitudes, physiological health and long-term well-being:

* 60% to 80% of primary care doctor visits are related to stress, yet only 3% of patients receive stress management help.

* In a study of 5,716 middle-aged people, those with the highest self-regulation abilities were over 50 times more likely to be alive and without chronic disease 15 years later than those with the lowest self-regulation scores.

* Positive emotions are a reliable predictor of better health, even for those without food or shelter while negative emotions are a reliable predictor of worse health even when basic needs like food, shelter and safety are met.

* A Harvard Medical School Study of 1,623 heart attack survivors found that when subjects became angry during emotional conflicts, their risk of subsequent heart attacks was more than double that of those who remained calm.

* A review of 225 studies concluded that positive emotions promote and foster sociability and activity, altruism, strong bodies and immune systems, effective conflict resolution skills, success and thriving.

* A study of elderly nuns found that those who expressed the most positive emotions in early adulthood lived an average of 10 years longer.

* Men who complain of high anxiety are up to six times more likely than calmer men to suffer sudden cardiac death.

* In a groundbreaking study of 1,200 people at high risk of poor health, those who learned to alter unhealthy mental and emotional attitudes through self-regulation training were over four times more likely to be alive 13 years later than an equal-sized control group.

* A 20-year study of over 1,700 older men conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that worry about social conditions, health and personal finances all significantly increased the risk of coronary heart disease.

* Over one-half of heart disease cases are not explained by the standard risk factors such as high cholesterol, smoking or sedentary lifestyle.

* An international study of 2,829 people ages 55 to 85 found that individuals who reported the highest levels of personal mastery – feelings of control over life events – had a nearly 60% lower risk of than those who felt relatively helpless in the face of life’s challenges.

* According to a Mayo Clinic study of individuals with heart disease, psychological stress was the strongest predictor of future cardiac events such as cardiac death, cardiac arrest and heart attacks.

* Three 10-year studies concluded that emotional stress was more predictive of death from cancer and cardiovascular disease than from smoking; people who were unable to effectively manage their stress had a 40% higher death rate than nonstressed individuals.

* A study of heart attack survivors showed that patients’ emotional states and relationships in the period after myocardial infarction were as important as the disease severity in determining their prognosis.

* Separate studies showed that the risk of developing heart disease is significantly increased for people who impulsively vent their anger as well as for those who tend to repress angry feelings.

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