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I know that stress is hard on your body but how hard is it on my heart? I am 29 years old and have been under extreme emotional stress for a year and a half now after the unexpected death of my youngest child.

By February 6, 2010 - 6:01am
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I am so sorry about the loss of your child. It is a devastating, heartbreaking event. A dear friend of mine lost her youngest child at age 11 about six years ago. The road back to feeling somewhat "normal" is a long, tough one, and you're doing wonderfully just to keep one foot in front of the other at this point.

You mentioned that it was "your youngest child," which must mean you have other children. I am sure that taking care of yourself so that you can take care of him, her or them is of utmost importance to you right now.

The human body is amazing in its resilience. Even though you have been dealing with such high levels of stress for the last year and a half, you can be healthy and most likely undo any damage. A 29-year-old heart is still a young, vibrant heart that wants to stay healthy and beat for many decades.

Birdie, how is your diet? Are you eating foods that are nutritious?
Are you able to get any regular exercise?
Are you on any medications?

Mentally, have you been able to get any grief counseling or find a support group? Grief counselors and support groups do not exist just to "make everything all right again" -- they know that things will never be all right again, but that we go on living anyway. And they help you to do that.

If you would like our help in finding services in your area, just tell us the city and state you live in.

Please let us know a little bit more. We'd be glad to help however we can. And again, I'm so very sorry for your loss.

February 8, 2010 - 10:27am
EmpowHER Guest

I am so sorry to hear about your loss. A loss of a child is never easy and there are several options you have to try and help you deal with your loss. Have you tried counseling? There are also help groups for parents who have lost children to help you cope.

Here is a website from Compassionate Friends which is an organization especially for parents who have lost children http://www.compassionatefriends.org/home.aspx.

For your question though, here is what research suggests:

Many studies show that stress can cause your blood to clot. Once your blood clots, you are at higher risk for a heart attack.

There is no clear documentation that stress is the immediate cause of heart disease although the heart is affected in a round about way. Stress is known to cause high blood pressure and cholesterol. So, if you are experiencing these things, you may exercise less, smoke and change your lifestyle habits to endure your stress. Everyone deals with stress in different ways, so it may effect you but not me.

When a person is stressed, your hormones are elevated, for example, your adrenaline. Anytime your hormones are elevated, this puts more stress on your body than we know. Have you ever heard of the man that picked up a car after he was in an accident with his family which were trapped under the car? His adrenaline was so high that he became “Superman” in a sense. Can you imagine how he felt after the adrenaline settled down in his body? Probably exhausted. Popeye syndrome....

Stress causes many ill effects on the body but as I mentioned earlier, it effects everyone differently. If you are concerned about your stress levels, here is a link from Medicine.net that explains how to reduce stress in your life http://www.medicinenet.com/stress_and_heart_disease/page5.htm#relax.

I hope this helps. Please keep us updated.

February 6, 2010 - 9:49am
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