How a little stress can damage your heart

The sad truth is that the end of the holidays can often come as a huge sigh of relief for many people. Too much planning, eating, and -- let's face it -- spending can suck some of the joy right out of the season.

Ladies, that stress can hit you a whole lot harder than it does the guys, and new research shows how that's true any time of year.

And if you're not careful, that same stress -- no matter what the source -- can lead to something a whole lot worse than aggravation and ulcers, especially if you have heart disease.

In the new study, both men and women with the condition were given a little stress: They were forced to give a speech.

The very thought is enough to make some folks break out into a sweat, right?

At least you can SEE that part of it.

What you can't see deep inside the body is far worse, as roughly 1 in 6 patients -- men and women alike -- developed what's known as myocardial ischemia in response to that stress.

That's when less blood flows into the heart.

In guys, it was a caused by a jump in blood pressure and heart rate during stress, which is fairly normal and usually fixes itself pretty quickly.

In women, however, it was a completely different story.

When they developed that ischemia, it was because the small blood vessels suddenly tightened up.

That's a much more dangerous condition, especially since women already face a higher risk of more permanent problems with those same small blood vessels.

The arteries can get so stiff that blood can't get through, which can increase your risk of serious complications like heart attack and even death.

These tightened blood vessels from stress may even be just as dangerous as the nasty junk that can build up inside the arteries and choke off blood.

Different cause... but the same potentially deadly result.

If you're feeling a little stress of your own right now -- whether it's a holiday holdover or just one of life's rough patches -- don't hold it in, ignore it, or try to tune it out.

Do something about it... before it does a number on you.

Aromatherapy, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicine, exercise, and prayer can all work wonders to lighten the load and help you to feel relaxed.

If you need a little more help, work with a holistic medical doctor on natural stress relief.