Experts: Stress Management Starts with Prevention
Knopper, Melissa, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Melissa Knopper Daily Herald Staff Writer
Suburban cardiologist Andy Rauh has been treating heart patients for years, but he never realized how much stress can affect the body until he had a patient who drove a cement truck.
Rauh's patient spent much of his adult life barreling down Chicago highways with thousands of pounds of cement in his truck.
Whenever a driver darted in front of him, the patient imagined what would happen if he lost control and caused a crash. This constant fear made him feel stressed out.
He came to Rauh after being admitted to the hospital for chest pains. The heart attack motivated the truck driver to completely change his life.
"After surgery, he all of a sudden just relaxed," Rauh said. While he recovered, the patient realized he never wanted to drive a cement truck again. Instead, he turned his hobby - breeding and raising hunting dogs - into a full-time business.
Now, the job-related stress is gone, with dramatic results. "He lost weight, his blood pressure is under control and he's exercising every day," Rauh said. "It's neat to see."
When people are under stress, their hearts beat faster, they forget to breathe, their hands go cold and clammy and the muscles in their neck and shoulders grow tense. Others get insomnia or grind their teeth at night. Experts say these symptoms come from an earlier time in human history, when we had to be ready to run from war-like enemies or ward off an animal attack. It's often referred to as a fight or flight response.
As they see the connection between mind and body more clearly, hospitals and doctors are putting more emphasis on stress prevention. They want to help people take control before it's too late. …