Fit And Well Idaho: How Stress Impacts The Heart

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By Brittany Cooper

Twin Falls, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) It's Valentine's Day and what's more symbolic than the heart? Unfortunately though, heart disease is the number killer of men and women. We examine how stress plays a factor in this week's Fit and Well Idaho.

Everyone copes with stress in one way or another. But when stress overtakes your life, that's a major red flag.

"I think that when patients have stress and don't deal with stress well, it leads to a lot of unhealthy decisions. Smoking is probably the one I worry about most, but also poor eating habits, overeating, not eating the right foods, all of that can be made worse by stress...there's also things that can happen with stress in terms of the heart so stressful times can lead to heart attack," explains Dr. Mark Crandall, a cardiologist at St. Luke's Magic Valley.

But when it comes to heart disease, knowing the risk factors can give you the upper hand in managing your health.

Dr. Crandall adds, "we can tell you about our cars, the horse power they have, and all the features, our finances, interest and mortgage rates. We know so many details about things in our lives, but we know so little about our own health in terms of the blood pressure, the numbers, and cholesterol, what the numbers mean."

Registered dietitian Melissa Sleight recommends taking five minutes of the day to relax. She shows us a quick technique she learned from a local therapist.

"You cup your hands like a bowl of soup and it's really hot, so you wanna smell it in, it's your favorite kind of soup, you want to blow on it because it's really kind of hot. You want to do that three or four times, just that, the 30 seconds that would take will bring down our blood pressure, calm our thoughts and really, physically affect our state of stress and our body can so much better with that," explains Sleight.

One way to relieve stress is to access the chapel at St. Luke's Magic Valley. It became available when the hospital opened back in 2011.

There's still room to attend the remaining heart seminars offered by St. Luke's.