Why busting stress is important for a healthy heart!

The heart wants what it wants. Or to be more precise, the heart wants what you want to give it. Unnecessary stress is the one of the reasons of heart attacks and it actually accentuates the other factors associated with heart diseases. Smoking, physical inactivity and overeating can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol which can eventually lead to heart attack. But these things increase when a person is stressed or his or her anxiety levels are above par.

According to a research published in The lancet1 and published in major newspapers like The Telegraph2, the brain’s amygdala (an area of the brain that deals with stress) signals to the bone marrow to produce extra white blood cells when one is stressed. This results in arteries to become inflamed and inflammation of the heart is one of the sole reasons for heart attacks, angina and strokes. People who were more stressed had much more activity involved in the amygdala. In another small study, the researchers again found that due to increased bone marrow activity and arterial inflammation caused due to stress, people were getting prone to heart related disease.

Emily Reeve, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, in fact mentions how the brain’s management of stress will help cardiologists understand the combination of heart diseases with other psychological stresses.

Effective ways to reduce stress can be through various exercises. Yoga styles like Ashtanga and Bikram can offer cardiovascular benefits, as your heart rate is elevated throughout the class. Circuit training exercises can help in stretching the arteries and improves the elasticity for better cardiovascular fitness. High intensive exercises like weight lifting and lane swimming can help in increasing our cardiovascular aptitude. But even a 30-minute job in the park and a proper diet can help you keep your heart fit.

For a stress-free lifestyle, an 8-hour sleep and drinking adequate water is essential but indulging in a hobby or a craft and being open about how you feel can help you have a burden less lifestyle and is actually a great way to keep your heart healthy.

 Sources:

  1. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)31714-7/fulltext
  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/01/11/scientists-finally-discover-stress-causes-heart-attacks-strokes/
  3. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/heart-health/the-6-best-exercises-for-heart-health/3/

Alzheimer’s: How creative mediums can help

Often number of times, we associate Alzheimer’s with just the element of senility. And even with old age, it is just considered as a natural process or as a part of growing old.

It is not.

Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. But it is much more than that. In the early stage, dementia symptoms may be minimal, but as the disease causes more damage to the brain and the symptoms worsen over a time period, it becomes too late to control the disease in its later stages.

Stages:

  • The first stage, sparse signs of forgetfulness as well in thinking and planning start to show. Generally, this is NOT the phase where people get diagnosed.

  • In the second stage, individuals may experience changes in personality and behaviour and now have trouble recognizing friends and family members. They also have an acute problem in understanding speech and even speaking and one is more prone to get lost on a street. This the phase where people where are diagnosed.

  • In the third stage, individuals lose the ability to communicate completely. They are unable to discern or identify the objects around them as well as loved ones and family members.

    Art as a Medium of Communication:

          

The epidemic that is Alzheimer’s continues to increase and span across the globe. It is estimated that by the year 2020, approximately 70% of the world’s population aged 60 and above will be living in developing countries, with 14.2% in India.

What we as individuals can do is understand that Alzheimer’s, though incurable as of now, can happen to anyone irrespective of their age, and can be managed through a proper understanding of the disease by the loved ones of the diagnosed. For communication process when the diagnosed person loses the ability to communicate, mediums of art can be used for the patients to communicate. The American artist, William Utermohlen started drawing self-portraits when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Prodded by his nurse, she wanted him to communicate through art and as his disease deteriorated, one can see how what he was trying to communicate.

In the later stages, he felt that he was trapped in a black box. Judy Holstein, a drama therapist with almost two decades of experience working with Alzheimer’s and other patients in Chicago also spoke of how art—a painting, drawing, or piece of music—can be used as a stimulus to work with patients’ memories.

Since the verbal part of the brain is more affected than the visual and the creative part, it makes sense to communicate through art.

As researchers continue to search for ways to better treat Alzheimer’s and other progressive dementias, there is a definite need to spread awareness and education regarding this illness in India. Treatment of other co-existing diseases and following proper advice from a doctor which can help in managing the behavioural changes associated with Alzheimer, is an absolute must.

The relationship between brain activity and creativity is still little understood, and yet with the ever-changing scientific discoveries year after year, it might just help in managing Alzheimer’s diseases. In the short-term, as a therapeutic activity, art and music can help people suffering from this disease to not just be in complete frustration on how to communicate with their loved ones.

Sources & Info:
 
For more information on how to manage AD, please visit:
 
#1. World Health Organization. Fact Sheet No 135. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1998. Population Ageing – A Public Health Challenge.