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Is Stress the Number One Cause of Heart Attacks?

Mark Virkler's picture

I just finished the Kindle version of Is It Worth Dying For? by Robert Eliot MD, a cardiologist, who while lecturing on how to not have a heart attack, had one of his own in his mid-forties. In his book he reflects on the experience and states that “stress may be the greatest single contributor to illness in the industrialized world” (Kindle location 293). The first five chapters of his book explore what causes stress, and the remaining nine chapters are on how to manage stress. I learned a lot reading this book and can highly recommend it.

Many have told me their heart attack was brought on by stress. Mine was. The Bible speaks of “men’s hearts failing them for fear” (Lk. 21:26) and fear surely is a significant form of stress. I had allowed fear to enter and I experienced the natural consequence of this emotional unrest.

My brother died of cancer at 57 years of age, just two years after retiring from a job where he experienced several years of extreme stress. Unfortunately he chose to stick with his job until retirement age rolled around so he could collect his full benefits. Unfortunately, he did not live to enjoy his retirement. A co-pastor in the church I worked at years ago was fired abruptly. This was a severe emotional blow to her and within months she died of cancer.

So we see that stress not only damages our heart, it causes the breakdown of our immune system, which in turn allows cancer to grow.

The role of stress according to Dr. Eliot

“The major traditional risk factors—high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, and smoking—fail to explain approximately half of the worldwide cases of coronary heart disease. There is good reason to believe that stress is a major missing piece in this puzzle. Moreover, researchers are increasingly recognizing not only that stress is an independent contributor to heart disease, but also that it is closely interwoven with the five traditional risk factors. Controlling unnecessary stress may therefore be the single most important key to preventing heart attacks(Kindle location 296). You can monitor your stress and heartbeat with a simple home device.

The mechanics of stress according to Dr. Eliot

“At the lab, I analyzed autopsies of workers who had dropped dead without warning. What I found suggested that adrenaline and other stress chemicals had spewed into their bodies with such strength that they had literally ruptured the muscle fibers of their hearts. It appeared that the brain had the power to trigger heart-stopping emotional reactions to stress” (Kindle location 311).

“Hot Reactors”  have the highest risk of a heart attack

Dr. Eliot states that “Hot Reacting” is an extreme cardiovascular response to stressful tasks … Who Are the Hot Reactors? These are people who overreact to stress with extreme blood pressure and chemical changes. Such people endanger themselves by expending enormous energy. They burn a dollar’s worth of energy for a dime’s worth of stress” (Kindle locations 623,630).

For hot reactors, blood pressure and heart rate jump to dangerous levels when any kind of stress appears. I would suggest this extreme physiological response is because of an extreme emotional response. I understand emotions to be byproducts of the pictures we are looking at and the beliefs we are holding. Thus I want to identify and replace the pictures I am gazing at and the beliefs I am holding.

Learning to be a “Cool Reactor”

Crucial questions to ask are: “Lord, why do I feel such intense stress at this exact point? What am I picturing/thinking that is producing such widely exaggerated feelings? Where am I insecure and thinking the worst? What are the lies I am believing that are hindering me from living in Your Kingdom realities of joy, peace, compassion, gratitude and thankfulness?” Getting these answers and then repenting for agreeing with the lies of the accuser and deceiver who has come to kill, steal and destroy is key to becoming a cool reactor.

Follow-up questions: “Lord, what do You want me to believe and picture that will restore my heart to peace and restore me to abiding in You? What will make me less of a workaholic, allow me to enjoy life more and worry less?" Get these answers written down and visible. Then practice them intentionally for at least six weeks. Establish a new pattern and lifestyle.

For example

I could believe lies are more powerful than truth, that acting in evil ways takes one to the top and that the righteous become the underdogs. These beliefs and pictures can produce a strong set of inflammatory emotions which damage health and heart. If I believe that truth wins over error and God rules over satan, and the righteous win and are elevated by God, then these beliefs and pictures can produce a peaceful set of Kingdom emotions which promote health and strengthening of one’s heart.

Removing Stress

If I can identify the emotional setbacks which occurred in the days, weeks and months before a heart attack (or before any physical or emotional ailment struck), I have the clues as to how to get back on the path of life. We repent of ungodly responses, embrace godly responses and get restored to a fullness of health.

Specifics: Have an attitude of leisure as we work and play. Spend more time playing, being spontaneous, having fun and being supported by friends. Incorporate deep breathing from the abdomen, smile, relax, visualize Jesus at our right hand (Acts 2;25; Ps. 16:8), eat a healthy, organic, non-GMO diet, stretch, exercise, take extra nutrition and do anything else God leads us to as we maximize health.

Those who live in the state of happiness tend to die of old age, with less than 1% of them dying of cancer or heart disease.

What I believe about stress is more damaging to my health than stress itself

Watch this amazing 15 minute Ted Talk video. This video is the 20th in a list of the 25 most viewed TED talk of all time.

Laughter IS the best medicine - Ted Talk

Let Kingdom emotions be your carrier waves to Kingdom health
(Compassion, joy, peace thankfulness - Matthew 14:14; Romans 14:17)

Cardiac Event Series

  1. How Could I Have Been So Wrong?
  2.  Biblical Truths Related to Heart Disease
  3. Causes of Heart Disease: Inflammation, Oxidation, Sugar and Stress 
  4. Drugs, Nutrition and the Lord 
  5. Is Stress The Number One Cause Of Heart Attacks?
  6. Ever So SLOWLY Learning About Blood Pressure
  7. Common Denominators of Great Diets
  8. God Says I’m Healed Yet Symptoms Persist
  9. Symptoms Go into Remission as I Speak to My Body
  10. Does Heart Surgery Cause the Heart to Pick Up A Spirit of Fear  
  11. Must I Work Hard To Be Successful?
  12. Which of The 10 Commandments Can You Break And No One Raises An Eyebrow?
  13. Experience Rest By Learning How To Delegate 
  14. Living In Rest Requires Living At Peace With Myself and Others 
  15. For Heaven’s Sake, Celebrate!
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4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 305 Pages | Retail: $16.99

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Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond?

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Dialogue with God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 296 Pages

This top seller for 30 years from Bridge Logos provides a narrative, right-brain presentation of the principles of how to hear God's voice. Especially enjoyable for personal use, it makes a great gift for introducing a loved one to the voice of God. This book teaches the four keys to hearing God's voice in readable style, and also devotes two entire chapters to moving samples of people's journaling (i.e. their two-way dialogue with God).

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Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

Hear God's Voice Guaranteed Package

9 Books | 10 CDs | 10 DVDs | Save Over 30%

Until May 22nd Get At Least 25% Off:

Or 50% off the School of the Spirit e-learning module!

Have you ever wished you could just sit down and have a long talk with the Lord? Wouldn't it be wonderful to move beyond having a theology that states that God loves you to actually hearing Him whisper words of love into your heart? When you're worried or confused, wouldn't you love to see the situation from His perspective and hear how He wants you to respond? When things don't seem to be going your way and your prayers aren't answered the way you had hoped, wouldn't it be great to hear Him tell you where He is in the midst of it, and what He is working out in your life? Are you ever just a little bit jealous of others who say with such confidence, "The Lord said...."?

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How to Hear God's Voice

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 317 Pages

We recommend that you order the newest revision of this book titled 4 Keys to Hearing God's Voice. It includes 95% of the content of How to Hear God's Voice but is reorganized so it fits perfectly with the 10 DVDs on this subject by Mark Virkler. In addition, it gets you started using the four keys earlier in the book and gives you more journaling samples and exercises. Since we have removed the large margins, it is a smaller and less expensive book.

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Prayers That Heal the Heart - Revised & Expanded 20th Anniversary Edition

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 320 Pages

Prayer counseling that breaks every yoke! Everything you need to experience deep healing of your soul and spirit.

Did you know that you don’t need to be continually plagued by negative thoughts, feelings, pictures or memories?

It is not part of the "human condition" to feel the constant nagging of doubt, insecurity, or anger. No matter what sin you are trying to overcome, what lie you think you’ll always believe, or what traumas your heart has suffered in the past, you will receive total freedom and restoration by praying these prayers in faith. 

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Twelve Weeks to Spiritual Mastery - Group Coaching

A group coaching experience with Mark Virkler

Because I could not find a Spirit-anointed teacher/coach, I spent ten extremely frustrating years seeking to hear God’s voice!!! Suggestions offered did not help me, things like: “You just know that you know. It is a still small voice. He speaks from your heart.” No one could give me the answer I needed which was: Hearing God’s voice is as simple as quieting yourself down, fixing your eyes on Jesus, recognizing His voice as spontaneous, flowing thoughts and writing down His flow as it is coming. Test what you have written after the flow is done, NOT while it is occurring.

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Counseled by God

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 146 Pages

Have you ever been defeated by negative emotions such as anger, fear, guilt, inferiority, condemnation or depression? Have you tried to fight them off unsuccessfully? Is there an answer that is deeper than simply trying to mentally reason yourself out of these emotions? Is there a way that Jesus can speak a word of life into the depths of your emotional despair and bring healing on a deep level? Is there a form of Christian counseling that begins and ends with the movement of Christ within your heart, rather than simply with the words of man?

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Hear God Through Your Dreams Workbook Cover

Hear God Through Your Dreams Workbook

by Mark and Patti Virkler | 92 Pages

A newer book has been released that accompanies this workbook: Click here for Hearing God Through Your Dreams by Charity Kayembe and Mark Virkler (featured on Sid Roth's "It's Supernatural", with almost a million views just on YouTube).

Do you often wake up feeling there was a significant message in your dream, but you’re just not sure what it is? Like Daniel and Joseph, do you long to be able to help others understand their own dreams and win them to Christ as you explain His night messages to them? Wouldn't it be nice if you could receive mid-course corrections from the Lord while you sleep? Do you wish you could be receiving divine inspiration, creative solutions to problems, and direction from the Lord during that third of your life that you’re “just” sleeping?

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Hearing God Through Your Dreams

by Mark Virkler and Charity Virkler Kayembe | 292 Pages

Learn How to Hear God’s Voice, Even When You Are Sleeping

It is always fun to be on the winning team. Well look what God has done with Charity's new dreams teaching. It has taken off like a rocket with a live TV interview on Cornerstone Network and her Sid Roth interview which has almost a million views on YouTube!

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Everyday Angels

by Charity Virkler Kayembe and Joe Brock 289 Pages

You can partner with Heaven’s angelic hosts!

Do you have guardian angels? Does God want you to know them? Find out what Scripture reveals and how YOU can interact with the company of Heaven!

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