As a woman entrepreneur, there’s no doubt that you’re the heart of your business. It’s you who gives it the energy to fulfill your heart’s desires. It’s you who is the most committed, passionate, and tenacious. It’s also you who is the most likely to be over-worked, sleep deprived, and stressed-out.
What you might not know is that being highly stressed-out might be a real killer to your business. Current research now recognizes stress as playing a significant role in heart disease.
The Facts About Women and Heart Disease
- 8 million women in the US are currently living with heart disease
- 35,000 are under the age of 65.
- Four million suffer from angina.
- 435,000 American women have heart attacks annually
- 83,000 are under the age of 65 with the average age of 70.4 years.
- 42% of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared to 24% of men.
- Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
- 67,000 women die each year from heart attacks, which kill six times as many women as breast cancer.
- Another 31, 837 women die each year of congestive heart failure, representing 62.6% of all heart failure deaths. (Resource: http://www.womensheart.org/PDFs/FactSheet_WHD.pdf)
What Is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a type of cardiovascular disease where the lining and inner layers of the arteries that form the network of blood vessels of the heart become damaged over time.
If untreated it can lead to a heart attack due to a plaque blockage within a vessel impeding the flow of oxygen and nutrients.
Medications, surgery and lifestyle changes offer improvement but are not a cure.
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The Causes of Heart Disease
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the most common causes of heart disease are attributed to –
- Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke
- High blood content level of certain fats and cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Conditions of diabetes and insulin resistance
- Inflammatory blood vessels
In addition, a serious cause for women is Coronary Microvascular Disease (MVD). It affects the heart’s smallest arteries due to low estrogen which may occur before or after menopause.
Emotional stress is known to contribute to heart attacks due to a sudden surge of stress hormones, especially for women. The condition is associated with post-menopausal women and is also known as broken heart syndrome.
While not verified medically, it’s thought that the actress, Debbie Reynolds, died of a broken heart after the sudden heart attack death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher.
What’s New About Stress and Heart Disease
What’s new is the recognition of a link between an increase in the activity of the brain’s amygdala center and the rise in heart attacks.
The amygdalae are two tiny almond shaped cells bodies. Each is positioned approximately midway on each side of the brain. Think of them as a kind of receiving, processing and sending station for emotional responses, especially those of fear and anger. This is where your “fight or flight” response originates. (pink bud-like structure in diagram)
Researchers at Harvard Medical School suggests that on-going chronic or consistent stress elevates the activity level of each amygdala.
Increased amygdala activity then stimulates the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells.
An increase in white blood cells subsequently causes inflammation in the arteries and increases the chances of a heart attack, angina, and strokes.
While you probably accept a certain level of stress that goes with your business, maybe it’s a good time to take a step back and determine how much stress you’re enduring to make your heart’s desires come true.
Perhaps having a heart check-up is a good business investment for the woman entrepreneur who is the heart of her business.
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