Stress is a term rapidly gaining traction these days and one that’s commonly applied to a whole host of modern lifestyle problems. At its most serious, stress can take a significant physical toll on the body as well as the mind.

In light of International Stress Awareness Week, 5-9 November, we thought this would be a good time to examine the impact of stress on the body, in particular cardiovascular health, and share more about the work we’re doing to mitigate the risks.

Impact of Stress

Stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
- The Mayo Clinic

How Do We Define Stress?

Stress is the body’s physical reaction to real or perceived threat situations, which induces what is colloquially referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ reflex.

People in stressful situations may feel their heart rate increase, their breathing quicken and their muscles tighten.

It’s useful to remember that stress serves a useful function and isn’t inherently bad.

A stress reaction can trigger you to move quickly out of the way of a fast-moving car, or heighten your responses in a potentially dangerous situation. We’ve evolved to deploy stress as a survival tool.

What can harm us is chronic or long-lasting stress responses, out of line with physical danger. Increasingly, our modern lifestyles are triggering stress at a disproportionate rate and for longer periods of time. This is where stress begins to pose a risk to our health.

What are the Key Symptoms of Stress?

Stress can induce a number of physical reactions including:

  • Headache.
  • Digestive disorders.
  • Insomnia.
  • Frequent infections.
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat.

An interesting research review published in 2017, ‘The impact of stress on body function: A review’ suggested that ‘stress can exert various actions on the body ranging from alterations in homeostasis to life-threatening effects and death’.

It shared previously confirmed links between stress responses and:

  • Brain function, including memory and cognition.
  • The immune system.
  • Gastrointestinal complications.

Crucially, it lists a number of studies that define the impact of stress on the cardiovascular system.

Stress and your heart

What is the Impact of Stress on the Heart?

The impact can be significant.

Stress can cause:

  • Increase in heart rate.
  • Increase in blood pressure.
  • Vascular changes which can cause cardiac arrhythmias and potentially subsequent myocardial infarction.
Dr Alan Kennedy, B-Secur

How Can We Mitigate the Risks?

B-Secur CSO Dr Alan Kennedy notes:

“It’s interesting that the theme of this year’s National Stress Awareness Week is ‘Does Hi-Tech Cause Hi-Stress?’

“For me, there are great leaps forward being made in health tech that could help us mitigate the impact of stress, centered on the collecting and monitoring of data that helps us understand the impact of physical stress on our bodies and our wellbeing."

B-Secur: Monitoring Heart Stress at a Touch

The insights we’re gaining are helping us develop technologies that can take diagnostics out of the clinical environment, into our homes, our devices and even our cars.
- Dr Alan Kennedy

B-Secur and ECG Biometrics for Health and Wellness

At B-Secur, we’re unlocking valuable heart health insights, using ECG biometrics.

Everyone’s ECG is completely unique, which makes it a powerful data metric.

We’ve been working closely with cardiac specialists and leading device manufacturers to bring the transformative power of ECG biometrics to wearables, smart clothing - and even cars.

Our algorithms can monitor stress levels from the ECG, empowering people with vital health monitoring and bringing advanced wellness measurements to their daily lives.

Chronic stress can take a huge physical toll on us but with greater health monitoring and smarter embedded technology, we can empower early detection and mitigate its risks.

We're establishing the partnerships to take this technology into the connected world.

Free White Paper: Unlocking Health Insights at the Heart

Learn more about our work in ECG biometrics and how we're unlocking a world of data for health and wellness.

  • Could ECG authentication act as a catalyst to unlock deep, data-driven insights into health and wellness?
  • What could that tell us about individuals?
  • Crucially, if heartbeat data can go beyond telling us who individuals are to how they are at the same time, does this insight have the power to disrupt?

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