Doc: Money woes are bad for the heart

Doc: Money woes are bad for the heart
The economy has a lot of people stressed out about money, whether it's scraping together enough for gas or groceries, or worrying about job security or 401k losses.

The market's down one minute, up the next and who knows what's ahead?

A new poll by the American Psychological Association shows eight out of 10 Americans say the economy is a significant cause of stress. The poll also found that 60 percent say they feel angry or irritable over money.

Dr. Sarah Speck at the Swedish Center for Cardiovascular Wellness says stress is a significant risk factor for heart disease. It increases your heart rate, raises blood pressure and causes shallow breathing.

"What happens when your body perceives stress is that your adrenaline levels go up. Adrenaline can be burned off by a brisk walk," said Speck.

Ideally that walk should last a good 20 to 30 minutes, but if you're feeling stress in the middle of your day, do whatever you can to move. Walk up two flights of stairs or go find a place you can wrap off 25 jumping jacks.

"When you move the muscles between your waist and knees, those are big muscles they need a lot of blood flow and they will start to metabolize the adrenaline in your system," said Speck. "So anything that gets you moving."

Almost half of those who responded to the APA poll also said they deal with stress by eating.

Instead of reaching for chocolate or some other comfort food, Speck says reach for a snack that pairs protein with carbohydrates like a protein bar or even a bowl of cereal with milk.

Speck also stresses the importance of a full night's sleep at night. And don't forget kids can feel your stress. Watch their stress and fat intake, and make sure they're exercising, too. A good solution can be taking a 20-minute walk as a family before dinner.