It’s Election Day, you’ve cast your ballot, you’re home from work and it’s time to turn on the news and watch it all unfold.
Some advice? You might want to turn off the TV if you find yourself getting stressed. No, seriously. It’s what one doctor orders.
Dr. Kris Vijay, cardiologist and medical director at the Institute for Congestive Heart Failure at Abrazo Community Health Network, says after your vote is cast, you might want to tune out some of the political drama as the added stress can damage the body.
“If you want to watch TV and all the ups and downs and swings on every channel, then you need to make sure you’ll be able to handle it,” he said. “If not, go to a movie, go to yoga, do some meditation.”
Heightened stress can put people at higher risk for things like strokes, heart attacks and other medical complications.
How is this possible?
It all comes down to how stress hormones damage the body, Vijay said.
For some, the fear surrounding the outcome of an election can cause extreme stress.
“This fear can actually lead to all kinds of different neurohormones being released in the body and into the bloodstream, increasing blood pressure, and, in some of them, blood sugar,” Vijay said.
Stress hormones angiotensin and endothelin are responsible for the damage, released in the inner lining of blood vessels when the body is experiencing extra stress.
“The sheer stress inside the blood vessel leads to erosion, which can lead to strokes,” Vijay said.
Even if you get by without the more serious and deadly health complications, stress hormones create an overall inflammatory response in the body.
Don’t worry, it’s avoidable: 6 tips
This doesn’t mean you need to completely tune out the election to avoid having a heart attack.
Here are some tips from Dr. Vijay on how to fulfill your civic duty while avoiding unnecessary stress: