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Detroit leads Michigan in stressed-related deaths, reports show

heartExercise can help
By Dennis Boatwright

According to reports published by the Center for Disease Control, Detroit leads Michigan in the rate of unnecessary deaths caused by heart disease. These disturbing facts are no surprise to health officials, considering the chronic economic and political troubles besetting Detroit including high crime and unemployment rates, high car insurance premiums and unreliable city services. When compounded, these issues have an inherently negative impact on the health of Detroiters because they boost anxiety and stress above levels doctors consider normal.

Medical professionals explain that when stressed, the body responds usually through hypertension, headaches and depression. Cardiologists say the heart essentially absorbs all of these negative emotional and physiological pressures, causing it to malfunction or even collapse. And when stress is untreated, heart specialists say it can accelerate aging by approximately 9-17 years.

Jay Winner, author of “Take the Stress Out of Your Life,” says “stress doesn’t only make us feel awful emotionally, it can also exacerbate just about any health condition (one) can think of.”

Further, when people are depressed or stressed they normally eat much more than usual and consume excessive alcohol, triggering obesity and other weight problems. This explains why coronary heart disease — defined as the narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart — is the most common type of heart disease, a condition that kills more than 385,000 people yearly. Contrary to popular assumptions, the blood vessels don’t actually narrow, but fatty materials and other substances form a plaque buildup on the walls of your coronary arteries, restricting blood flow, causing the heart to slow down or stop.

Despite many Detroiters’ poor health conditions and lack of health care, there is something we can do.

Fitness instructors tell us not only does exercise shed the extra pounds, but it also causes immediate stress reduction. Going for a 20 minute brisk walk, jog, or bike ride, for example, can burn hundreds of calories.

When exercising, the brain releases endorphins. These feel-good transmitters help with physical and mental performance and overall health and sense of well-being. Daily exercise, furthermore, can raise self-confidence while lowering depression.

Reduced depression, in turn, can lead to a good night’s rest and less frequent headaches.

In addition to regular exercising, sticking with a proper diet plan extends the benefits of working out. Cutting back on salt should be essential because too much sodium is dangerous for your health since it can increase your blood pressure resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

Yes, Detroit has problems. But our health should not have to suffer. Getting off that couch to lace up our gym shoes to walk, bike, or to do jumping jacks and sit ups can not only protect us from illnesses caused by worrying, but it can also make our bodies feel younger at the same time.


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