Bacon – It’s Not The Only Culprit in Heart Disease

bacon heart  I slept fitfully that night worrying that my alarm wouldn’t go off at 4:30 a.m. so that I could take my oldest son to the airport.

Saying goodbye tore at my heartstings even though I was equally excited for his 6 month footloose adventure in New Zealand.

Light fog (or was that just my misty eyes?) slowed me down enough to be 20 minutes late for work.

I burned my two right knuckles, which immediately formed blisters.

My low back was nagging at me all day.

Did he make his connecting flight to Figi? How many hours over the Pacific Ocean?? Why won’t he text me that he’s landed???

This was my chronically stressed day.  This is NOT a bad day compared to the real suffering that many people endure but it was MY stressed out day.  Making this list helped me to recognize that for about 20 hours straight my body was chemically reacting to stress and that means that I had increased blood pressure without really even feeling it.  Since heart disease is still the #1 killer in the United States, I decided to study up on just what the repercussions are of chronic stress and heart health.  

What I discovered was both alarming and empowering. In his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers(recommended to me by one of the attendees after my presentation on “Laughing Your Way to Wellness”) Robert M. Sapolsky educates in a clear and very witty way.  It has profoundly opened my eyes on this subject of modern day chronic stress! And you have to love the writing of this author.  The paragraph below caught my attention:

“Basically, your heart is just a dumb, simple, mechanical pump and your arteries are nothing more exciting than hoses. The response of the heart under stress makes them work harder for a while and if you do that on a regular basis they will wear out, just like any hose or pump you’d buy at Sears.”

So for you, my blog readers, here is a basic understanding of how chronic stress will gradually damage the cardiovascular system and what we can do about it:

1. Stress raises blood pressure. If you have chronic stress then you have chronic high blood pressure which = Hypertension.

2. Rigidity – This more forceful volume of blood flow bombards the lining of the blood vessels, which in turn makes them develop a thicker muscle to handle the forceful blood flow.  This makes them more rigid, which in turn, increases blood pressure all the more!

3. Plaque – This high pressured blood flow damages the “fork in the road” (where a bigger vessel forks off into 2 smaller vessels and on and on all the way to teeny tiny capillaries). This damage is in the form of craters and irregular edges which leads to inflammation. This inflammation increases the likelihood that circulating crud (platelets, fats, cholesterol and others) will clump and stick to the inflamed injury sites.  Now you have Atherosclerosis.

4. Ruptured Plaque – Increase stress and you increase blood pressure.  This extra force of blood flow can tear some of this plaque loose, rupturing it. Now you have a "hairball on the loose" and if it clogs a smaller vessel of the heart then you suffer a heart attack.  Clog up a vessel of the brain and you suffer a stroke.

1 more piece of news: Once the cardiovascular system is damaged, it apperars to be immensely sensitive to any acute stress, physical or psychological.

What can we do to diminish the chronic stress of our modern lives?  Here are a few of my go-tos.

  • Do something that makes you smile and laugh every day.
  • Breath slowly before you begin a meal.
  • Move your body throughout the coarse of  your day.
  • Write in your gratitude journal.
  • And one of my favorite quotes:

“Worry is like a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.”

And yes, my son landed safely on the other side of the planet!

Have a heart healthy 2015!!










Motivational Speaker Polly Pitchford didn’t always know the phytochemical benefits of kale, in fact, those words weren’t even in her vocabulary 30 years ago. Neither did she see any reason to do jumping jacks on a cement surface for an hour. But all it took was a chance vegetarian cooking class and some high-energy music to open her eyes upon a whole new world of healthy living. For 30 years Polly has practiced, studied, taught, educated and lived a healthy lifestyle that makes her such a powerful speaker.

Polly’s down-to-Earth and humorous approach mirrors her own lifelong journey to lasting, positive changes. The audience walks away with tangible plans for improving their health and their lives through food, fitness and fun.
To book Motivational Speaker Polly Pitchford, call 941-685-7725 or visit her at

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  1. Enjoyed reading Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers years ago, and I thank you for the reminder to pull it out and read again. I share your passion to stress less and have been breaking out into Frozen's "Let it Go" theme song more often! Glad your son safely arrived on his outstanding adventure — thrilled for him, Polly. Check out the Viber app if you haven't already.

  2. Uh oh. So this was a message directly meant for me. I something think I'm exempt from actual damage from all my stress – but no, I'm not. It's time for me to wake up and face reality. Thank you so so so much for this reminder. Back to practicing my 3 minute morning Outside Breathing exercise. It really helps. Thanks Polly!!!

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