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Women: Take Stress to Heart

Some signs of stress you can’t help but notice: sweaty palms, nausea and tense muscles. Other signs you can’t feel, but they can have serious concerns for your health.

A new study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, showed that women’s hearts may be especially vulnerable to the effects of stress. During a stressful experience, women showed a greater restriction in their blood vessels compared with men. When blood vessels constrict, it decreases the blood flow and oxygen to your heart. This can lead to a condition called cardiac ischemia, which can set a woman up with chest pain and heart attack. Anxiety can also disguise the symptoms of heart disease in women. Some symptoms are: chest discomfort or pain and feeling like your heart is pounding or fluttering (palpitations).

Give Yourself a Stress Test

Managing stress is important for your overall health. Signs that stress may be taking a toll on your well-being include:

-Aches, pains, tense muscles or clenched jaw


-Feeling anxious, angry or depressed

-Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation and nausea

-Chest pains, rapid heartbeat

-Loss of appetite or overeating “comfort foods”

Low energy

Difficulty falling or staying asleep

“Women with stress or anxiety should be treated seriously because they may have ischemia,” says Kimberly A. Hogan, M.D., local resident and family medicine physician, Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean Medical Center. “Basic diagnostic testing can confirm if the symptoms are due to anxiety or coronary artery disease and will help you and doctor address the symptoms proactively,” Dr. Hogan added.

Put Stress to Rest

Take a moment for yourself and make wellness your priority. Schedule an appointment with your doctor and make time for regular screenings.

Say no. It’s okay to say no if something doesn’t fit with your priorities including stealing time for yourself.

Stay away from stress triggers. While it isn’t possible to stay away from all stressors, sometimes you can consciously make an effort to avoid certain places or being around people who make you feel stressed.

Exercise. Find an activity you enjoy doing like walking, biking or taking an exercise class. Making it a part of your daily life will help you feel better in body and mind.

The little moments, taking time to put you and your health first, can help ensure you’re able to live life to the fullest, and experience more of the big moments.

As part of a longstanding commitment to women’s health and wellness, Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean Medical Center will be hosting its 27th annual Women’s Health Night on Wednesday, October 24, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Treat yourself to a special evening devoted to maintaining your optimal health with free screenings and informative lectures by Southern Ocean Medical Center’s expert physicians. For more information about Women’s Health Night or to make an appointment with a doctor, call 1-800-560-9990 or visit

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