Nip stress in the bud before it gives you a heart attack -

Stress could give you a heart attack

Do you ever feel life or your job is pushing you to the limit? Do you ever feel you're totally stressed out?

If you constantly feel high levels of stress at home or work, it could be causing some dangerous health problems.

Bo Jones Jr. has been living basketball, non-stop, since he was a kid. He coaches a girl's basketball team at Huguenot High School in Richmond, Virginia. Jones says the ball never stops bouncing.

"It's a constant grind--preseason, regular season, post-season, AAU, then pre-season again," Jones said.

Recently, right before his team was to play a big tournament, basketball took a backseat.

"I stopped to call 911," he said. "It was a scary hour and a half."

Jones, who jogs four times a week, suffered a heart palpitation. Doctors said it was brought on by stress.

Regardless of whether you teach school or work on a construction site, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about one-third of American workers report feeling high levels of stress on their job.

Stress is like tension on the strings of a violin. Too little tension makes the music flat. Too much tension makes the music shrill and could even make the strings break.

Similarly, some levels of stress are good for humans, but too much stress over an extended period, could cause serious health consequences.

When stress gets too much for a person to handle, it can lead to serious health problems.

Stress causes your heart rate to increase. So, how do you know what your ideal heart rate should be?

Well, it's different for men and women.

A woman's maximum heart rate is determine by subtracting her age from 226. For men, subtract your age from 220.

Your "safe" heart rate is about 60 percent of your maximum heart rate.

Now, let's go back to Coach Jones to determine his ideal heart rate.

If we take 220, minus his age (33), that gives us a maximum heart rate of 187.

His safe heart rate is about 60 percent of his maximum heart rate. So, 187 times 60 percent is 112.

The moment Jones' heart rate exceeds 112, he needs to use caution.

When you're feeling stressed, check your pulse and count your heartbeats for one minute. If your beats per minute (bpm) exceeds your safe heart rate, experts say you should find healthy ways to manage your stress.

Consult with your physician to determine if you should be taking any medication. You can also talk with friends or engage in some sort of relaxing exercise regime like meditation or yoga.

Just four days after Jones' health scare, he was back on the court and heeding doctor's orders.

"They said, ‘Coach don't yell, don't scream, cut practice shorter, be nice to the girls,'" he said.

It may be hard for him to cool down those coaching instincts, but Jones said he's going to make every effort to try.

"I'm getting older, working full-time, so I'm going to stop rushing--I think," he said.

There are lots of other things that can also lead to stress such as an individual's diet.

Experts say you need to eat nutritionally-balanced meals, get an adequate amount of sleep, drink lots of water, and engage in physical activity.

If you are a workaholic, take vacations and a day off from work occasionally to make time for yourself.

If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, consult with a psychologist or some other licensed healthcare professional.

Additional Information:

  • STRESS…At Work (Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) -
  • 6 myths about stress (Source American Psychological Association) -
  • The Impact of Stress Management on Reversing Heart Disease -
  • Stress Tip Sheet (Source American Psychological Association) -
  • Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate (Source: CDC)
  • For moderate-intensity physical activity, a person's target heart rate should be 50 to 70% of his or her maximum heart rate. This maximum rate is based on the person's age. An estimate of a person's maximum age-related heart rate can be obtained by subtracting the person's age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 - 50 years = 170 beats per minute (bpm). The 50% and 70% levels would be:

    50% level: 170 x 0.50 = 85 bpm, and
    70% level: 170 x 0.70 = 119 bpm

    Thus, moderate-intensity physical activity for a 50-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 85 and 119 bpm during physical activity.
  • For vigorous-intensity physical activity, a person's target heart rate should be 70 to 85% of his or her maximum heart rate. To calculate this range, follow the same formula as used above, except change "50 and 70%" to "70 and 85%". For example, for a 35-year-old person, the estimated maximum age-related heart rate would be calculated as 220 - 35 years = 185 beats per minute (bpm). The 70% and 85% levels would be: 

    70% level: 185 x 0.70 = 130 bpm, and 
    85% level: 185 x 0.85 = 157 bpm

    Thus, vigorous-intensity physical activity for a 35-year-old person will require that the heart rate remains between 130 and 157 bpm during physical activity.
  • The 10 Most Stressful Jobs of 2012 -

 Tips from the APA for managing stress:

  • Understand how you stress. Everyone experiences stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed?How are your thoughts or behaviors different from times when you do not feel stressed?
  • Identify your sources of stress. What events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to your children, family, health, financial decisions, work, relationships or something else?
  • Learn your own stress signals. People experience stress in different ways. You may have a hard time concentrating or making decisions, feel angry, irritable or out of control, or experience headaches, muscle tension or a lack of energy. Gauge your stress signals.
  • Recognize how you deal with stress. Determine if you are using unhealthy behaviors (such as smoking, drinking alcohol and over/under eating) to cope. Is this a routine behavior, or is it specific to certain events or situations? Do you make unhealthy choices as a result of feeling rushed and overwhelmed?
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress. Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities such as meditation, exercising or talking things out with friends or family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Don't take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity. Ensure you have a healthy mind and body through activities like yoga, taking a short walk, going to the gym or playing sports that will enhance both your physical and mental health. Take regular vacations or other breaks from work. No matter how hectic life gets, make time for yourself — even if it's just simple things like reading a good book or listening to your favorite music.
  • Reach out for support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

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