When it comes to high blood pressure, researchers from England and Finland think they can now point to the main culprit.
They cast their nets wide, with their study looking at 7000 people for clues about the main drivers of this damaging condition.
Thanks to information gleaned from studying so many subjects, they were able to pin the main cause on one familiar suspect, and not only that, they could confidently recommend an easy way to deal with it too.
The ‘S’ word behind high blood pressure here is stress, which is almost unsurprising because of the way that it exacerbates or encourages so many other conditions.
Plenty of people will tell you that they don’t feel stressed, but this research digs into decades of findings to show that everybody suffers some degree of stress of one sort or another.
Even the things that you happily take in your stride everyday count as stress. Whether it’s work worries, relationship difficulties, physical illness, environmental noise or poor dietary choices, they all add up to pressures which the body can’t resolve, and which quietly build up.
The result of this constant overload is disease in mind and body. When the body can’t cope with the load it eventually breaks down.
This landmark study appears in the European Heart Journal, and it underlines the need for greater stress awareness. As modern lives become more complicated we face a mountain of stressful challenges that pile up on a daily basis.
People with the highest stress levels are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as those with the lowest.
If you’re wondering whether this study might have missed other contributing factors, don’t worry. They studied their subjects for several years and took into account things that also have a health impact like alcohol or smoking.
The researchers were surprised to find that people with high stress levels were not oblivious, but they often didn’t help themselves. They knew what was happening to them and they knew it was affecting their health, but they didn’t use the proven therapies that have been shown to help.
Which is a huge shame, because they could easily be cutting stress out of their lives using nothing more than some simple relaxation and mind-body awareness techniques. They could get their blood pressure down to 120/80 in 24 hours.