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Heart health testStress can be a positive thing - helping an individual to grow, develop, be stimulated and take action. However, if stress exceeds a person's ability to cope it can impact on their mental and physical health in a range of ways. Some research studies estimate up to two thirds of illnesses are stress related.
In the days of the caveman, stress often came in the form of physical threats that required individuals to react quickly and decisively. The body helped out by automatically clicking into high gear at the first sign of trouble, releasing a surge of hormones (notably adrenaline and cortisol) to accelerate the heart rate, raise blood pressure, increase blood sugar, and enhance the brain's use of glucose. This stress response meant the caveman was instantly ready to fight or flee.
Modern day stresses are more likely to be psychological in origin and prolonged in nature (work-related stress, financial worries, inter-personal relationships, chronic illnesses). But they can still set off the body's alarm mechanism and the associated hormone surge. Over-exposure to those stress hormones can, in turn, have a range of impacts on the body's systems - brain, cardiovascular, immune, digestive and so on.
People deal with stress in different ways and the capacity to deal with stress changes throughout life. Those who have developed effective strategies to deal with day to day stressors are less likely to develop physical and psychological symptoms.
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