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Stress can affect a woman in many ways

May 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Angry, stressed out women fill prime time plot lines, but in real life the toll it takes on the body can be just as dramatic. "I just get sweaty when I get myself work up I don't know what it is. I don't now if it's a heart attack," said heart patient Gloria Klug.

Gloria Klug says this has been the worst year of her life.

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"It's all family related and from that it spirals into finance and spirals into conflicts," said Klug.

She's been feeling all kinds of chest pain.

"Sometimes it is here and sometimes it is over here," said Klug.

It's also affected her vision. Her cardiologist says he's seen an increase in patients with stress related symptoms.

"If the anger and stress persist the adrenaline levels tend to be high," explains Dr. Shahram Ravan from Olympia Medical Center.

Whether you blow your top, or keep it in, studies show your body is still flooded with stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. That can have a cascade effect on the body. In the brain it can reduce memory.

"The brain starts to shrink and therefore it actually destroys some of the brain cells," said Dr. Ravan.

Anger tightens your jaw muscles which can lead to teeth grinding. A continuous flow of stress hormones can depress your immune system. In Gloria's case, stress caused ocular migraines.

"You can get constriction of the blood vessels within the eye," said Dr. Ravan.

Over time, stress and anger can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and eventually heart attacks.

And because women have smaller arteries that feed the heart that means they have blockages in different places than men and that makes the disease more difficult to detect.

What can you do? Be vigilant and tell your doctors about any unusual symptoms.

And while your doctor can treat specific symptoms, like Gloria, you have to realize the only true way to beat anger's affects, is to learn to let go.

"It's really easy to say let go and let God. It is real easy to say that, but it's quite not that easy to do when it's all falling down on your head, but it's really the only way," said Klug.

 

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