Stress and Heart Disease Essay

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Heart Disease and Stress
Miller and Blackwell state, “Though people have long believed that certain thoughts and feelings are toxic for their health, only in the past 30 years has convincing evidence accumulated to support this view… specific cognitive and emotional processes do contribute to the development and progression of medical illness,” (Miller & Blackwell, 2006, p. 269). Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Through many experiments, research has shown that stress increases the health concerns directly related to heart disease. Stress is a part of everyday life, yet individuals perceive and process stress differently.
Stress is defined as, “the process by which we perceive and respond
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Inflammation is normally known as the body’s automatic response to foreign viruses and bacteria. Evidence shows that people with chronic stress may have significantly increased concentrations of inflammatory molecules such asinterleukin-6 (IL-6), a cytokine that plays an important role in the inflation process, and C-reactive protein (CRP), which is produced in the liver in response to the IL-6 (Miller & Blackwell, 2006). When the Sympathetic fibers from the brain activate both primary (bone marrow and thymus) and secondary (spleen and lymph nodes), they release a wide variety of substances that influence the immune response by binding to receptors on the white blood cells. Not all types of cells have the same amount of receptors, thus increaseing of certain cells and not all. Then the hormones epinephrine, norepinephrine, and cortisol are recreated in various parts of the body along with brain peptides melatonin, β-endorphin, and enkephalin. These all bind to the receptors on the white blood cells and have diverse effects on the functions.
People’s own responses in trying to manage their stress can have an effect on their immune system. Behaviors such as consuming alcohol and sleeping too much or too little can change the way ones immune system is operating, “Thus, behavior represents a potentially important pathway linking stress with the immune system,”
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