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When the Silent Killer Strikes

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Know the Top 5 Diseases Linked to Stress

Research has noted that stress is the major cause of more than 60 percent of all health problems. A 20-year study conducted by the University of London found that unmanaged stress increases the probability of developing cancer and heart disease more than how cigarette smoking and high cholesterol diet do. Stress is recognized as the number one silent killer today.

Stress can highly impact both the mind and the body by causing the nervous system to overwork and by repeatedly generating an outflow of adrenaline, cortisol, and other stress-related hormones. It can also impair the body's immune function; disrupt neurotransmitters balance in the brain; interrupt enzyme systems and other metabolic activities. All these can lead to depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal tract problems, skin disorders, organ damage and other health problems.

Because stress affects the psycho-neuro-immunological balance of the body, it accounts for the top 5 killer diseases of today.

1. Heart disease

Chronic stress may affect the heart by keeping heart rate elevated over a long period of time. Blood pressure also tends to increase during stressful events which also results in heart disease, if not immediately regulated.

2. Hypertension

The initial body's reaction to stress is a sudden rise in blood pressure combined with a surge of hormones to generate a fight-or-flight response. Along with these are narrowed blood vessels and faster heart rate. Stress leads to hypertension through repeated blood pressure elevations and over stimulation of the nervous system in producing the large amounts of hormones. This impact then increases the risks of stroke and coronary disease. Sources of stress associated with high blood pressure include job strain, social environment, and relationship problems.

3. Diabetes

Stress may not initiate the occurrence of diabetes but it can aggravate the condition. It signals the body to produce more glucose, while a person with diabetes cannot produce enough insulin to compensate this increase in production. This elevates blood sugar levels, which when left uncontrolled can lead to diabetes complications such as heart disease, kidney problems, and poor vision.

4. Cancer

Stress prevents the immune system from functioning properly. This condition weakens the body's defense against viruses and illnesses. The immune system may also falsely believe that it is fighting off diseases when no disease is present at all due to the constant high levels of stress hormones. This eventually leads to disoriented defense mechanism. As stress decreases the body's ability to fight disease, your body also loses the ability to kill cancer cells. Prolonged stress may cause short-term or long-term damage to the immune system and result in sickness

5. Depression

Over activity of the body's stress-response system leads to elevated stress hormones, reduced serotonin, and other neurotransmitters in the brain including dopamine, which are all linked to depression. When the stress response fails to normalize after a stressful incident, depression is more likely to develop.

Other diseases directly linked to stress are as follows:

  • Acid Peptic Disease
  • Alcoholism
  • Asthma
  • Fatigue
  • Tension Headache
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Ischemic Heart Disease
  • Psychoneuroses
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Skin diseases like Psoriasis, Lichen Planus, Urticaria, Pruritus, Neurodermatitis

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