Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center
Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center is committed to providing the highest quality of care while serving the communities of southwest Las Vegas.

How Does Stress Hurt Your Body?

Short-term stress, such as that you may be feeling right before a big presentation, can cause helpful changes in your body that make it possible to complete your task. However, when stress persists for an extended period of time, the effects on your body can be severe. Prolonged periods of stress can lead to depression, weight gain, poor disease management, and many problems that require emergency care, including heart attacks and stroke. Here are just a few of the ways that stress can impact your body.

Heart Disease
When stress occurs, your heart pumps harder than normal, and your blood vessels dilate, which causes increased blood pressure. These effects aren’t dangerous for most people during an acute bout of stress and are part of the body’s natural flight-or-fight response. When they happen for a prolonged period, the excess burden on your heart and vascular system can have devastating impacts, including heart attack and stroke. If you have existing heart disease or are at risk of heart disease, these impacts can be even more damaging.

Type 2 Diabetes
Stress causes your body to release cortisol, a hormone that causes your liver to produce glucose to give you the energy to fight back against your stressor. High levels of cortisol for extended periods upsets your blood glucose levels and can cause an increase in hunger that can lead to obesity. Excess weight coupled with the excess blood glucose can lead to type 2 diabetes. Research indicates that reducing stress can reduce blood glucose levels almost as much as medications for some people.

Digestive Problems
Stress can cause you to overeat comfort foods, which are typically high in fat and sugar and can lead to gastrointestinal upset. It can also impact the rate at which food moves through your digestive system and cause constipation or diarrhea. The butterflies you feel in your stomach during short periods of stress can turn into ulcers and pain when stress becomes chronic.

Southern Hills Hospital & Medical Center offers extensive resources for stress management, from emergency care and stroke care in Las Vegas in times of crisis to behavioral health services and primary care doctors to manage your symptoms. Request a referral to a doctor today by calling (702) 880-2700.