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Job Stress May Raise Women’s Heart Attack Risk by Almost 90%

by Dr. Shilpa Saxena, Forum Health Tampa

A potentially life-saving study was plastered all over the internet recently: Job Stress May Raise Women’s Heart Attack Risk by Almost 90%! 
This study is at the “preliminary assessment” state as the results have not
been fully analyzed, basically meaning that the medical community is not willing to stand behind this claim just yet. The news, though, seems quite convincing and promising as it was done after processing 10 years of data on over 17,000 women. 

As the universe would have it, our own Nurse Practitioner Robin is present at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions meeting where this information was presented. Why do I know she was likely the one in the front row of the lecture hall sitting at the edge of her seat at this particular presentation? Because this type of data (health news to you) is what any scientifically curious Integrative Medicine health care provider seeks all the time. Medicine is slow to accept change, in my opinion. The process is arduous, but understandably necessary many times. But let me tell you, when modern evidence confirms what ancient healing traditions have known for thousands of years, Integrative Medicine docs do the end zone dance (you know the one that looks cool and silly at the same time but the player doesn’t care one bit because the play and the achievement of the touchdown was all that was on his mind at that moment). 

The connection between the health of your brain and the health of your heart is irrefutable. It will take some time until scientists comb through the data to decide whether or not they will change “The Guidelines.” These are the commandments that physicians will follow as they work to guide you in your disease management. If you happen to be one of every 3 women bound to have heart disease in their future, this should be a major treatment goal for you, your mother, your sister, or your friend. The shocking statistic is that one woman dies each and every minute due to heart disease or its complications. That’s crazy!!!  How can this be happening in the United States of America, land of freedom and opportunity? Well, if it makes you feel any better (it doesn’t for most), in underdeveloped countries the rate of heart disease is 1 out of every 2 women. That’s still shocks me as a physician battling diseases of lifestyle like heart disease!!! 

Each one of us as women are uniquely gifted with a sense of purpose, compassion, dedication and unfortunately, this can be taken to dangerous places with risk to our mental health. There is a line you cross when you go from caring to OVERcaring. You Superwomen know I am talking to you! Take it from me. I am blessed to learn from my patients every single day in the office. I have seen thousands of female patients over my career! The healthiest women I meet have a sense of calmness and peaceful perspective about them that pervades everything they go through.  Their decisions are grounded in a sound mind, not a scattered one. They don’t get overly emotional or negatively chained to their job, boss, work responsibilities, coworkers, job performance. This cool, calm and connected mindset saves them a whole lotta fuss with their other job- navigating the waters of family life.  

Adding an emphasis on stress management and relaxation techniques to help decrease your risk for a heart attack is imperative.  The study suggests that 10-15 minutes a day doing yoga, meditating, walking and appreciating nature, just plain letting go is all that you have to start with to get going. The truth is, whether or not science tells you that ‘the evidence’ points to stress being a major risk factor for your heart, your body will continue to serve as physical evidence of the impact of chronic daily stress on your potential for living your happiest, healthiest life each and every time you have a bad day at work. The way that I see it- why wouldn’t you try to reduce the impact of stress on your body?  What do you have to lose? If this study turns out to be correct, it is your life!