Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Mind body relationship and stress
As a neurosurgeon, I have long been fascinated by the real link between the mind and the body. I guess intuitively we have known for some time that there is an obvious connection, but now scientists are putting more energy and resources toward studying it than ever before. From time to time, I blog about things I've found particularly interesting in this arena, and a story today caught my eye.
There is a negative relationship between workplaces stress and your heart health. Ok, so you already knew that one. But, researchers in Canada decided to take it a step further. They studied nearly a thousand men and women who returned to work after having a heart attack. They were followed for the first six weeks after their return, and then again two years later. They found that people who reported chronic job strain were twice as likely to have another heart attack. Twice as likely! Now, in case you're curious (I was) as to what constitutes job strain, the researchers specifically defined it as high psychological demands with low decision control.
Adding more evidence to the link between workplace stress and heart health was another study that more heart attacks and cardiac events occur on Monday, as compared with any other day. And, apparently, it's not just the workplace that can have a negative impact on your health. While marriage can be good for your health, it is important to be more specific. It's more accurate to say a "good marriage" can be good for you health, and a bad marriage can be awful for your heart. In fact, another study showed hostile, angry relationships can boost the risk of heart disease by 34 percent, as compared with people who are on good terms with their spouse.
No question, stress and the associated effects of cortisol and high blood pressure can be a killer. We are seeing more evidence than ever about this relationship. On the other hand, being able to mitigate stress and the perception of stress can be significantly advantageous. Do you have any of your own stories of the mind/body relationship?
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