Hyperlipidemia Education Program
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Speaker 1: The material contained in this video presentation provides general guidelines on the management of high cholesterol and triglycerides. For specific information based on your health condition, please see your medical provider. Welcome to the hyperlipidemia management program presented by Lee Health. This program will provide you with guidance on steps you can take to improve your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. There will be five presenters to include a physician, registered dietician, pharmacist, exercise specialist, and a behavioral health specialist. Each presenter will provide information from their area of expertise on steps you can take to improve your health. Thank you.
Dr. Sal Lacagni...: Hello, I'm Dr. Sal Lacagnina, I'm the system Medical Director for Wellness and Employee Health for Lee Health. And today we will be talking about high cholesterol or what is known as hyperlipidemia. The lipid profile is a blood test that's made up of four values, the LDL or the bad cholesterol, the HDL, which is the good cholesterol, triglycerides, which are essentially fats that come from your diet and the total cholesterol level. So, next we will talk about the normal values of cholesterol. So what's really important there is getting to goal. And when we talk about this slide here, we're looking at an LDL value of bad cholesterol value of less than 100. The HDL, we want that number to be on the higher side of around 60. Because HDL, if you think about it, is almost like Pac-man, and Pac-man goes out into the circulation and gobbles up the bad cholesterol, the LDL particles. So you want that number to be around 60 or above. And then the triglyceride level, these are fats that basically come from your diet, we want that value to be around 150.
Oftentimes, people think that their cholesterol is related to a family history. And sometimes it is, and that's called familial hyperlipidemia, a situation that comes from genetics, if you will. And this is a genetic predisposition. And one way that you know that is when you're testing someone and you're changing their diet, and the numbers are still not at goal, it might be a genetic component, and the physician or the health care provider really needs to focus on genetics and family history at that point. So acquired hyperlipidemia is really the most common type of high cholesterol situation. And there are a number of illnesses that go along with that. And as the slide shows, coronary artery disease, which is the disease that occurs with a blockage in the vessels in your heart, cerebrovascular disease is again blockage of vessels that are in your brain.
Dementia is another component of that, because if you think about it, high cholesterol that blocks arteries in the heart, blocks arteries everyplace else, including the brain, the lower extremities, the same and erectile dysfunction in men is what I often call the canary in the coal mine, if you will. If this is a circulatory problem, and a gentleman comes in with erectile dysfunction, you really need to be sure that this is not a vascular problem. And in that situation, it could be related to cardiovascular disease, and other circulatory problems that really need to be ruled out. Causes of hyperlipidemia are multiple and as the slide shows, it's absolutely associated with diabetes. There are certain blood pressure medications and other medicines that can cause high cholesterol including hormones, a low thyroid situation, kidney problems can cause high cholesterol, excessive alcohol use, other endocrine disorders and metabolic syndromes, which basically are situations where the cholesterol is high because of a metabolic condition in the body.
So why is high cholesterol the problem? And the short answer is because it significantly increases your risk for so many vascular diseases and so many chronic conditions. So what typically happens is, the cholesterol creates plaque in the arteries. If the arteries are not fully open, the circulation is poor. And if the circulation is poor to a particular organ, that organ is not going to function properly. It's certainly one of the reasons that people have angina or pain in the heart related to exertion. And as I mentioned before, dementia is associated with that and other chronic illnesses. So high cholesterol is a problem because it's a systemic problem. It really creates problems throughout the entire body.
So the typical lipid profile, as I mentioned before, is the total cholesterol, the triglyceride level, the HDL and LDL levels, the good cholesterol and bad cholesterol. But what is also important in relation to those four values, is the size of the LDL particles. So what research actually shows us is that when the LDL particles are small, those particles can actually get into the inside lining of the arteries called the intima. That's the inside lining of the arteries. And that's how plaque starts to develop. So you can do a blood test that gives you the size of the LDL particles and also the number of small LDL particles. And that's an extremely important value for the physician or the provider to know because in a situation where an individual is doing all the right things with their diet, that person might need some medication to help lower that LDL particle number, if you will.
The next is elevated triglycerides. Elevated triglycerides primarily come from fats in your diet. And when the triglyceride levels are high, it contributes to arteriosclerosis but also contributes significantly to a fatty liver. In years past, we used to think that a fatty liver was a benign condition. But now we know that it's significantly associated with cirrhosis of the liver, and even as the situation gets worse, can increase the risk of liver cancer. So the goal for a triglyceride level is less than 150, we really want to focus on the diet to get that number below 150. And in that situation, we're really lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, liver disease, and so on. The next slide I really like because oftentimes, there is a misconception about the significance of genetics. And when we really start to look at the research that compares genetics and family history to lifestyle, what we really see is that the family history and what's being inherited, if you will, is really a bad lifestyle.
In most cases, it's not really genetics per se, it's usually the fact that an individual might not necessarily be living the healthiest lifestyle. And that's what contributes in many cases to high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and the illnesses that I mentioned before. So in treating that, we primarily want to look at lifestyle behaviors first, focusing on nutrition and physical activity and stress and all the other things that can contribute to high cholesterol. And if after working on those things, the levels for the lipid profile are not improving, then we start to work up the individual for a genetic susceptibility. There are many diseases that are associated with hyperlipidemia. And as the slide shows, vascular disease is a systemic problem. What that basically means is that every area in the body is affected, so if an individual is diagnosed with heart disease where they have a blockage in the coronary arteries, they probably also have blockage in other places. And that's why there was a significant association between cardiovascular disease and dementia and kidney problems and other systemic vascular problems.
Dementia is listed on the slide as is diabetes. Now diabetes is a significant health problem. And it's interesting to look at the causes of death for diabetics, which is most likely related to heart disease, and not an elevated blood sugar level in and of itself. Heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and as I mentioned previously, erectile dysfunction is another disease that's associated with high cholesterol or hyperlipidemia. So what was previously talked about as heart disease has really a new terminology now. And we really use the comprehensive term of cardiovascular disease. And that relates to cardio, the heart, vascular, the blood vessels. And I'll mention this many times because it really is important to understand that when you have blockage in one area, you almost always have blockage in other areas. So the term cardiovascular disease is really important.
And what that actually means is, the blood vessels start to become occluded with plaque formation on the inside of the arteries and I always use the analogy when you're using a hose to get water to your lawn, if the hose is kinked off because of a blockage, the water flowing through the hose is not proper, it's not 100%. A similar analogy is with The vascular system, where if you have something that's blocking the flow of blood through the artery, the plaque, you're not having proper blood flow to an artery. And that's what causes disfunction. Dementia is the next topic to discuss. And the listener might wonder why we're talking about dementia in relation to cardiovascular disease. So, let me describe the anatomy and the blood flow to the brain. There are two carotid arteries on the right and the left side going up to the front of the brain. And there are two in the back that are primarily the largest arteries that supply the brain. If we think about what causes arteriosclerosis or hardening of the arteries, if these blood vessels become occluded, the brain is not getting the proper blood supply.
And an easy way to know that, is when you're in for your annual wellness exam, the physician or the advanced provider listens and feels the carotid arteries in the front. And you can actually get an idea of whether or not there was an occlusion in those carotid arteries by listening, and also by feeling the carotid arteries. So, that in and of itself is a good explanation for why many people with cardiovascular disease also develop cognitive problems or dementia. Diabetes is another chronic condition that's associated with hyperlipidemia. The individual has a susceptibility to high cholesterol and a significant risk for heart attacks and strokes because of high cholesterol and high triglycerides associated with diabetes. And typically, what happens to an individual over a long number of years is when the blood sugar is not controlled, and the cholesterol is not controlled, that individual is at significant risk for cardiovascular disease.
So as part of the treatment and the workup, we really want to focus on getting the blood sugar's controlled, and also getting that cholesterol controlled so you can help lower the individual's risk of heart attacks, strokes and other vascular diseases. Screening for hyperlipidemia is so important because of the health implications that I've talked about previously. If there is a family history, if there are genetics that are concerning, or if there is a lifestyle that's concerning, we really want to be sure that we're screening, early, screening children, and certainly screening all adults for high cholesterol. We've talked previously about the standard American diet and the standard American lifestyle, which significantly contributes to high cholesterol, and all of the chronic problems that I mentioned previously.
So when you're having your annual physical exam, and I implore everyone to do that, as often as they can, be sure that you're having a screening blood test for high cholesterol. So, I really like this next slide on treatment because it focuses on lifestyle, and lifestyle really needs to be the first part of the treatment for high cholesterol. As mentioned previously, lifestyle generally contributes to a significant percentage of individuals with high cholesterol. So focusing on lifestyle, looking at the specifics of what a person eats on a regular basis, if they're physically active, if they're dealing with stress and sleep appropriately, all those lifestyle interventions really help not only to treat, but also to reverse and prevent the disease. And that really is a major focus that we really need to be sure of. So medications follow in line after lifestyle treatment. And once we know that an individual is really doing all that's necessary in relation to lifestyle, and the lipids are not at their goal numbers, then we start to talk about medications.
Medications are extremely effective, and another part of this video you'll hear about the specific medications that are available for high cholesterol. But what I'd like to emphasize is that, in addition to lifestyle, medications are extremely effective in lowering the cholesterol values. And that is really what's necessary to lower the risk of all the chronic illnesses that we mentioned previously. So this slide is one of the passions of my career. I really believe that prevention for all of the illnesses or most of the illnesses that we deal with on a regular basis is something that we really need to focus on. So for prevention of hyperlipidemia what an individual really needs to focus on, is a really healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, regular physical activity, stress management, getting enough sleep, and really dealing with the things that they can have control over on a daily basis.
Prevention of hyperlipidemia is extremely effective when you can change from the standard American lifestyle to a more healthy lifestyle. So, reversing hyperlipidemia really follows along with the prevention piece that I just talked about. And oftentimes individuals with cardiovascular disease do believe incorrectly, that it's not a reversible disorder. I want to really emphasize the fact that hyperlipidemia and arterial sclerosis and vascular disease is absolutely a reversible disorder. There have been many research studies that actually show with lifestyle and oftentimes medication and intensive changes in what an individual does on a daily basis, the hardening of the arteries can actually be treated effectively and reversed. So when I really focus on those issues with individuals, I really want people to understand that this is a reversible disorder. And in many cases, it's easily reversible with changes in lifestyle. So really, in closing, what I'd like to leave you with is the fact that cardiovascular disease and hyperlipidemia and many of the chronic illnesses that I talked about previously, are oftentimes caused by lifestyle, but also treated effectively, reversed and prevented by lifestyle.
So I want to thank you for your attention. And I hope that you learn something from this video and in subsequent videos you'll be learning even more about hyperlipidemia. Thank you.
Melanie Aracri: Hi, my name is Melanie Aracri, registered dietitian with Lee Health Solutions. For this session, we're going to review nutrition and hyperlipidemia by discussing what is cholesterol, the different types of dietary fats, using the food label to decipher what would be good food choices in ways to improve our cholesterol by our food selections. First, let's talk about what is cholesterol. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is not inherently bad. In fact, your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Cholesterol comes from two sources, your liver and dietary cholesterol. We get dietary cholesterol mainly from animal sources, like meat, poultry, and full fat dairy products.
Food high in saturated and trans fat can cause the liver to make more cholesterol than it needs and can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. To reduce your risk for heart disease, cut back on saturated and trans fats. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature. Examples of saturated fat are butter, B fat, or marbling in meat, whole milk, cheese, and tropical oils like coconut and palm oils. Trans fats are usually formed artificially by food manufacturers to improve shelf life of foods. The primary dietary source of trans fat is in processed foods with partially hydrogenated oils. The American Heart Association recommends the following guidelines, total fat in moderation, keeping the saturated fats to less than 6% of total calories. So as an example, for a 2000 calorie meal plan, this would be 13 grams or less of saturated fat. And trans fat needs to be zero, or as low as possible. Let's look at the food label to help us figure out these numbers.
The nutrition facts label information is based on one serving of the food. For this example, the serving size is two thirds cup. We then look for total fat. When comparing foods, look at the percent daily value of total fat. If an item has 5% daily value or less per serving, it is considered low in total fat. But if the item has greater than 20% daily value per serving, it's considered high in total fat. This amount is based on 65 grams of fat per day for 2000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Now let's look at saturated fats. Saturated fat is listed under total fats. Use the same percentages for saturated fats with 5% considered low, and 20% considered high in saturated fat. If we use the 2000 calorie diet, aim for 13 grams of saturated fat or less per day. And finally, let's look at trans fats.
Trans fat has no percent value, so use the amount of grams as a guide. Trans fat should say zero grams. But if an item has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat, the food product will be listed as zero grams. To make sure to keep trans fats to a minimal, use the ingredient list. The words to look for to avoid are partially hydrogenated oils. So what do we eat to improve our cholesterol by diet? Empty four servings of vegetables and fruit every day. This may sound like a lot, but a serving of vegetables is one cup raw or half a cup cooked and a piece of fruit serving is about the size of a baseball. Eat six servings of grains, mainly whole grains each day.
The benefit of eating whole grains is the higher fiber content. Soluble fiber found in beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol levels. Examples include one slice of whole wheat bread, a half a cup of cooked brown rice or pasta, a half a cup of cooked cereal, or half a cup of popped popcorn. You may include two servings of low fat or fat free dairy or dairy alternatives, like soy yogurt, or almond milk every day. A serving is considered eight ounces of fluid, or one and a half ounces of low sodium reduced fat cheese. Eat six ounces or less of lean protein or protein alternatives every day. Examples of lean protein may include skinless chicken breast, fish, ground round, or pork loin. Usually if the meat item has the word round or loin in it, then it may be considered a leaner cut of meat.
Don't forget to try to replace some of those meat meals with meat alternatives, like Bing burgers, tofu, or soy alternatives. And speaking of additional meat alternatives, eat three servings of unsalted nuts and seeds and beans and legumes a week. A serving would be two tablespoons of nut butter, 1/3 cup nuts, two tablespoons of seeds, or half a cup of cooked beans. The nuts may promote lowering of your LDL and the beans are a great source of fiber and also have the benefit of higher protein compared to grains and vegetables. In summary, choose more whole foods, mostly plants, less processed foods. Enjoy more vegetables, whole grains and fruits. Eat less fat, such as saturated fats from meats, full fat cheese, and butter. Try switching out some of those meat containing meals to a high fiber protein source, like legumes or beans. Use low fat or fat free dairy or dairy alternatives like almond milk, or fat free milk. Thank you.
Mary K. Wallace: Hi, I'm Mary K. Wallace. I'm an exercise physiologist in the cardiac rehabilitation program. In this segment we're going to talk about how exercise can help to improve your lipid profile. Exercise can affect your lipid numbers in three different ways. First, it can help to lower your LDL by up to 10%. It also can increase your HDLS by up to about five to 10%. and in combination with good heart healthy dietary habits, it can also help to decrease your triglycerides. In the field of exercise physiology we like to teach a principle called the FITT principle. This is basically a principle that helps to individualize your exercise prescription and teaches you what you need to do on a daily basis. Looking at the FITT principle, let's start with the F which stands for frequency. How many days a week do you need to exercise? A minimum of five days is required and you can exercise up to six or even seven days a week.
With this particular type of exercise we're referring to aerobics exercise if you look at the bottom of your chart. Aerobics exercise is an activity that uses your large muscle groups, is a continuous, rhythmical sustained type of movement. Examples of aerobic exercise would be walking, running or jogging, climbing stairs, riding a bicycle, swimming, or using various pieces of equipment at a fitness facility like any step machine, and elliptical machine. Your aerobic exercise is what will improve your heart health and affect those HDLs in particular. Looking back at the chart for I, that is your intensity. With your aerobic activity, you want to be exercising in what we call your target heart rate zone.
This is about 40 to 75% of what we call your heart rate reserve. You can also use two other factors to determine your intensity. One is called the rate of perceived exertion scale, and very simply, you're looking at a scale of zero to 10. Zero would represent nothing at all, like sitting in a chair. 10 would be the hardest exercise you've ever done your most maximal effort, almost as if you had just been chased by wild animal through the woods. In no way do you ever want to be anywhere near a 10. Ideally, on this chart, your exercise should feel like it's moderate, somewhat hard, or even hard. That would be between like a three and a five on a scale of zero to 10. Keep in mind if your exercise is hard, that means it is challenging, it takes effort, but it's very doable. It's not your maximum effort.
Last of all, you can go by what's called the talk test to determine your intensity. The talk test is very simply while I'm exercising, can I still carry on a decent conversation with you, even though I have some increased breathing. If I'm not able to talk to someone or carry on a conversation, that's an indicator I need to slow down that I'm working a little bit too hard. Time for exercise, how long do I need to exercise? A minimum of 30 minutes with that ultimate goal of reaching up to 60 minutes. For some people when they're just beginning to exercise, that may sound like a daunting goal. Remember, you can break that into smaller increments throughout your day if necessary. It could be 10 or 15 minutes in the morning, afternoon and again in evening. With that goal of getting up to that 30 sustain minutes of aerobic activity. In addition to aerobic activity, you can also do what's called resistance training.
This would be done only two or three days out of your exercise week. With resistance training, it's going to be at a moderate intensity. This would be something like lifting lightweight dumbbells or using a resistance training type machine. But that particular exercise we do what we call sets of repetitions. Ideally, you're going to do anywhere from two to four sets with that set consisting of eight to 12 repetitions. And it's very important to make sure that you're using proper form and that you're breathing and doing slow controlled movements when doing your resistance training. And lastly, at the end of your exercise, stretching to allow the body to cool down and relax and to improve your flexibility is ideal. You'll hold a stretch for about 10 to 30 seconds and maybe do that two or three times.
If you're just beginning an exercise program, we want to be sure that you get started safely. So here are some key points to get you started on a good healthy exercise program. Meet with an exercise physiologist or specialists to set up a safe aerobic exercise program. A professional can tailor your exercise program to your specific needs. They can help to determine the level of intensity suited for you. Make short term goals to help achieve your long term goals. As you get started, remember that the benefits of exercise on cholesterol take time, commitment, effort and discipline. Your heart health, overall body strength, and quality of life are worth the investment. In conclusion, remember that exercise will help to improve your numbers, but it will also help to improve your quality of life as well. Thank you.
Melanie Rolfe: Hi, my name is Melanie Rolfe, I'm a pharmacist with Lee Health, and today I'm going to talk to you about common medications used for hyperlipidemia. Before starting any new medication, you should have a discussion with your doctor about the risks and benefits of starting therapy. Your doctor may consider starting you on cholesterol lowering therapy if you have pre existing heart disease, what we call atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease or ASCVD. If your LDL cholesterol is greater than 190, or if your LDL cholesterol is greater than 70, and you have diabetes or a high risk of developing heart disease. While medications are effective in lowering your cholesterol, you should never rely on medications alone and should always incorporate lifestyle modifications to help in lowering your cholesterol.
There are many medications that can be used for hyperlipidemia. These medications work in different ways to either lower your LDL cholesterol or your triglyceride levels. Cholesterol medications come in many different forms from tablets and capsules to powders to injectable medications. However, the most highly prescribed medications for lowering cholesterol are a category of medications which we call statins, which is what we will primarily focus on. Statins are the most commonly prescribed medications for lowering cholesterol due to their proven efficacy and ease of administration. Statins have been shown to help decrease your bad cholesterol while also increasing the good cholesterol in your body. They also have the added benefit of lowering your chance of experiencing a heart attack or stroke. Since they are prescribed so often, it is very likely that you've heard the names of some of these medications before, such as Lipitor, Crestor, or Zocor.
A statin is easy to spot by the generic name because they all end in statin, like atorvastatin, rosuvastatin, simvastatin, or pravastatin. Always take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Statins are generally taken once daily and should be taken at the same time every day. It is usually recommended to take your statin in the evening time since this is when they will be the most effective. Setting up an alarm or incorporating your medications into your nightly routine may help make it easier to remember to take your medications. If you miss a dose of your medication, take the dose as soon as you remember. If it has been more than 12 hours since the miss dose however, just skip that dose and continue with your regular schedule.
Do not take two doses to make up for that miss dose. Statins are generally very well tolerated medications, with the majority of patients experiencing little to no side effects. Muscle pain or soreness is the most commonly associated side effect of statins. If you experience unusual muscle pain, tenderness or weakness, contact your doctor right away. If you do experience muscle symptoms, your doctor may switch you to a different statin or reduce the dose of the medication you are currently on. Let your doctor know right away if you begin to experience the same symptoms with the different medication. Well, uncommon, statins can have an impact on your liver function. Contact your doctor right away if you notice signs of liver damage, which include dark urine, light colored stools, or yellowing of the eyes or skin. Statins should not be taken during pregnancy. Do not take these medications if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
There are many over the counter medications that claim to be beneficial to your heart health or cholesterol. Do not start taking any over the counter medications or supplements without speaking with your doctor or pharmacist first. One of the most common supplements for lowering your cholesterol is red yeast rice. This supplement contains a similar ingredient to those and statin medications called Monacolin K. If taken in conjunction with a statin, you may be at higher risk of developing muscle symptoms or liver damage. It is also important to remember that herbal supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, and different supplements may not contain the same amount of the chemical. While the reason behind statins causing muscle symptoms is not fully understood, it is thought that they may decrease the amount of coenzyme Q10 in the body, which is an important factor for your muscle metabolism.
Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 is available as an over the counter supplement. Supplementation with CoQ10 is thought to reduce the chances of developing muscle symptoms or soreness while also taking a statin. After discussion with your doctor or pharmacist, CoQ10 is a safe supplement to take that could potentially provide some benefit to prevent muscle symptoms from occurring. Again, it is important to remember that over the counter supplements are not regulated by the FDA. When selecting a supplement, it is important to look on the package for the USP seal as shown on this slide, which helps better ensure the quality of the product. No other supplements have been shown to have any benefit in lowering cholesterol and should be used with extreme caution. Remember, just because it's all natural, does not mean that it is safe. When taking any medication for your cholesterol, try to take your medication at the same time every day. Setting alarms, apps on your smartphone and using a pillbox are methods that will help you remember to take your medications as scheduled.
Do not stop taking your medication or change the way that you take your medication without discussing with your doctor first. Always fill your prescriptions regularly. Try not to wait until you run out of medication before getting a refill. Your pharmacist in the community is an excellent resource that is there to help you. Don't ever hesitate to ask your pharmacist any questions that you may have about your medications. Remember that even if you are feeling well, you should continue to take your medications as prescribed. You won't be able to feel your cholesterol medications working, but they are continuing to work to lower your cholesterol and your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Thank you.
Jayme Hodges: Hi, my name is Jayme Hodges, and I'm the director for the behavioral health centers. I'm here to talk to you about stress. Everyone feels stress in their lives at one point or another. But what is it and how does it affect you? Stress can easily be defined as anything that happens in your life that is out of the norm and disruptive. There are three different types of stress, you have acute stress, which is the most common type and generally does not last very long. Then you have an episodic acute stress, which typically occurs when someone experiences constant and frequent episodes of acute stress. Then you have chronic stress, which is constant and unrelenting stress associated with various situations, such as abusive relationships, demanding and unrewarding jobs, long term poverty and chronic illnesses. If a situation is a cause of stress, then how you react to the situation is your stress response.
The American Psychological Association describes this as your body's natural reaction to any kind of demand that disrupts life as usual. This reaction is your body's natural alarm system, and through the release of various hormones such as adrenaline activates your sympathetic nervous system, commonly known as the fight or flight response. In order to manage stress effectively, it is important to learn stress management skills that focus on recognizing and understanding stress, as well as developing healthy strategies to cope. Acute stress may not be harmful, but long term chronic stress can eventually become more damaging to your health than the original stressor. Although there may be several contributing factors, or causes of stress, there are usually three areas that can have a significant impact on you and your stress level. These are your expectations, a feeling of lacking or losing control, and at times uncertainty and fear about the future. The expectations you have of yourself, of others and of situations can often contribute to elevated stress. You may have an expectation that you should be able to do something or others should do as you want them to, or situations should have the outcome you want.
And when these expectations are not met or fulfilled, you may feel a lack of or a loss of control, which can lead to increased feelings of helplessness, excessive worry and frustration. Unexpected situations arise with often unpredictable outcomes. Consequently, the feelings of not having or being in control over the situation over others or over yourself, can lead to overwhelming uncertainty and fear of the future. The what ifs about our safety, our security, our well being, our loved ones and ourselves. These thoughts and feelings that have a significant impact on your overall stress level can also have an impact on your physical, emotional and financial well being as well as an indirect impact on your cholesterol levels. Physically, when your sympathetic nervous system is activated, your body reacts by among other things, increasing your heart rate and breathing. Your body remains on high alert for an extended period of time. Emotionally, you may experience increased feelings of anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, and irritability, which may negatively impact your physical health and lead to unhealthy lifestyle choices as a means of coping, such as unhealthy eating and lack of exercise which can lead to obesity and diabetes.
Financially related to the increased out of pocket costs for medications, doctors visits and higher insurance premiums to address the various physical and emotional consequences of unmanaged stress. You may also experience a loss of needed revenue due to a reduction in wages from calling in sick or needing to leave work early. So what can you do? Stress is a normal part of everyone's life and your reaction to stress is something you can manage. The key is to find balance and learn to not just manage stress, but to effectively manage your response to the stress by building and fostering a sense of resiliency. First, you need to increase your own self awareness about the what and the how of stress. If you are able to identify what causes stress and understand how you respond, you can learn to manage it better. Secondly, if you are physically taking care of yourself through healthy eating and proper exercise, you will be able to handle stress more effectively. Thirdly, cultivate a sense of mindfulness and accept that nothing lasts forever, including your stress.
Practice basic breathing exercises, and relaxation skills to help turn off your stress response. Try not to worry about the uncertain future and don't regret the unchangeable past. Stay in the present moment and focus on what you have control over. And lastly, work to challenge your perceptions. Challenging negative thoughts and reframing situations can help to reduce emotional distress and manage stress more effectively. Thank you.