Photo of Jeremy Reid, DODr. Jeremy Reid

Dr. Jeremy Reid is currently a second year Family Medicine resident at the Washington Health System Family Medicine Program. Before going to Medical School, he worked in landscaping and construction. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it changed the course of his life. Dr. Reid is married to an angel of a wife and has 3 kids.  He has learned over the last year the most important things in his life are his spiritual well-being and family.

Heart Disease

I only thought it fitting with the COVID-19 pandemic to talk about none other than stress and our heart. So now we think, as we were always taught, I have depression, anxiety or a stressful job and life, I don’t have heart disease, heart failure and I have never had a heart attack. My heart is healthy; I have never even had chest pain.

Or maybe you are thinking my heart is already bad, how can stress affect it more?

When I was younger I was told that stress can raise your blood pressure. Did you know this is true? Stress causes hormones to be released that increase our blood pressure so we can work harder and think more clearly, but too much of a good thing is almost always bad. These same hormones being released all day, every day, because of ongoing stressors, can cause our blood pressure to elevated, which makes our hearts work harder.

Heart disease is still a leading cause of death in America. So stress relates in that way but what else? Well in general, people that live with higher levels of stress also tend to smoke more often, eat more unhealthy or overeat, drink more alcohol, and have higher levels of cholesterol. When we do these things this also raises our blood pressure.

Going along with this and the drive for each of us to live a good, healthy and fulfilling life, research shows that believing we are healthy and having a positive outlook on life helps a person to live a happier and healthier life.

So think about your own life. Do you ever think:

  • I can’t manage my stress.
  • I am sleeping too much, eating too much, sleeping too little.
  • I don’t want to smoke/drink alcohol but it’s the only thing that helps me destress.
  • I watch too much TV.
  • The news is stressing me out.
  • I can’t seem to get anything done that I use to be able to.
  • I can’t believe I have to teach my kids school. I can’t remember this stuff.

So what can you do today to change tomorrow?

  • Talk with your doctor to make sure this is stress and not anxiety or something else.
  • Although currently we should be physically distancing, we hope in the near future that the COVID-19 vaccine will be made readily available. While we wait, call others through zoom, Skype, facetime, google duo. Connection can help with stress.
  • Ask your doctor what things you can do to manage stress.
  • A few suggestions that I have found helpful: group therapy, therapy, counseling, podcasts, calm music, journaling, planning, meditation, prayer, exercise, eating healthy, drinking water, connecting with friends and family, art, gardening.

Just as always, talk with your doctor before starting anything new, to be assured that this is a healthy and fitting option for you.