The stress of a new job or a public speaking engagement can make your palms sweaty, your heart race and your stomach clench. The mind and body are inextricably linked and, unfortunately, mental stress can lead to real health problems. When stress levels stay high day after day, your heart health may suffer the consequences. The research is ongoing as to whether chronic stress directly causes heart disease. But what is clear is that stress can indirectly raise the risk of heart disease. Here at Riverside Community Hospital, our heart health providers empower patients to make smart decisions for their healthcare.
Stress can affect your eating habits
Nutrition has a significant effect on your heart health. Your heart and blood vessels need a well-balanced diet that is:
- High in fiber
- Low in saturated fat
- Rich in healthy fats
- Low in sodium
- Low in sugar
If you choose healthy foods like whole grains, lean meats, vegetables and fruits regularly, you’re already taking important steps to protect your heart. But when you’re having trouble coping with stress, you might be more likely to stray from these healthy food choices. Stress can cause some people to overeat or skip meals, choose sugary junk foods and get takeout meals.
Stress can affect your motivation to exercise
When you exercise your muscles, you’re also exercising your heart muscle. Exercising regularly benefits your heart and blood vessels in the following ways:
- Keeps your arteries flexible
- Regulates your blood pressure
- Regulates your cholesterol levels
- Stabilizes your blood sugar
- Maintains a healthy weight
Unfortunately, stress can make a person lose the motivation to exercise, particularly if that stress is linked to not having enough time. If you can manage to get yourself to exercise despite your stress, you’ll almost certainly find that working out helps you manage your stress better.
Stress may prompt you to drink or smoke
Another way stress can indirectly affect your heart health is by setting the stage for alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Of course, not everyone who experiences stress will have a few drinks or smoke cigarettes. But those who do risk worsening heart health.
At HeartCare Institute at Riverside Community Hospital, our heart health specialists are committed to helping you live life well to prevent or manage heart disease. In the Riverside region, our heart hospital is recognized for unsurpassed patient care and life-saving procedures. Please direct medical emergencies to a 911 dispatcher, but for non-emergency questions, you can speak with a nurse at (951) 788-3463.
With the demands of work, family and friends, it’s hard to find the time to visit a doctor for health screenings. But these exams and tests, which are performed in the absence of symptoms, are an essential cornerstone of preventive medicine. If the men in your life haven’t seen their family physicians lately, encourage them to make an appointment during Testicular Cancer Awareness Month this April. A testicular cancer screening probably won’t reveal any abnormalities. But just in case it does, the skillful cancer care specialists at Riverside Community Hospital are here to help.
Testicular cancer screening guidelines
Health screening guidelines are established by multiple organizations and they can vary. It’s important to remember that these guidelines may not necessarily be appropriate for every patient. Men should consider asking their primary care physicians if a certain health screening is appropriate for them, based on their personal risk factors of testicular cancer.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force does not currently recommend that men who do not have symptoms undergo routine screenings for testicular cancer. The organization also does not recommend that men perform routine self-exams.
The American Cancer Society does recommend that men who are at least 20 years old have a testicular cancer screening during their annual health exams. The organization also notes that doctors may recommend routine self-exams for men who are at a high risk of testicular cancer.
Testicular cancer self-exams
Self-exams for testicular cancer are intended to alert men to abnormal changes of the testicles, which should be evaluated by a doctor. Men who choose to perform self-exams should do so after bathing because the skin of the scrotum will be more relaxed. Men can check for the following abnormalities:
- Hard lumps or nodules
- Changes in size, consistency or shape
- Swelling or enlargement of one testicle
Cancer Center at Riverside Community Hospital brings together leading oncology specialists who are genuinely committed to giving each patient the high-quality, personalized care he or she deserves. We’re pleased to offer state-of-the-art medical technology like CyberKnife and robotic surgery, which allows Riverside families to receive superior care right in their own community. Call our nurse referral line at (951) 788-3463.