Blood and Stress

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The purpose of this paper is to define stress and how it effects the body's physiological systems. This paper will include the normal functions and organs involved in the following five physiological systems, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, respiratory, immune and musculoskeletal. This paper will also include a description of a chronic illness associated with each physiological system and how the illness is affected by stress.

Stress means different things to different people and stress effects people in different ways. Some people think stress is something that happens to them such as an injury or a promotion and others think that stress is stress is what happens to our mind, body and behaviors in response to an event. While stress does involve events and how one responds to them these are not the critical factors, but our thoughts about the situation in which we are involved are the critical factors. Essentially, stress exists whenever homeostasis is disturbed or cannot be maintained (Stress and the Social System Course Guide, 1993). Homeostasis refers to the body's ability to keep the internal chemical and physical environments constant. As your body begins to react to stress several changes occur. These changes include increased heart rate, blood pressure and secretion of stimulatory hormones. Ones body prepares itself in stressful situations to either stand ground and fight or to flee from the situation. Walter Cannon called this stressful reaction the fight-or-flight response (Greenberg, 1999). There are different ways in which one can experience stress and it is important to remember that stress is an essential part of life. Not all stressful situations are negative. Receiving a promotion at work, the birth of a child or taking a trip can all be stressful but are not threatening. The reason why one may see these situations as stressful is because they may feel unprepared to deal with them. To eliminate confusion and misuse of words Hans Selye gave names to the different types of stress one may experience, he described damaging or unpleasant experiences as distress and pleasurable or satisfying experiences are called eustress (Rice, 1999). The next part of this paper will consist of information describing the organs and the normal functions involved in five of the physiological systems in the human body. It will also include one illness associated with each system and how that illness is affected by stress. They five physiological systems are: 1. Cardiovascular System

The cardiovascular system consists of the heart and blood vessels. The heart pumps blood and the blood vessels channel and deliver it throughout the body. The bloods work is done when it gives up what the cells need and takes away the waste products they do not need. Arteries carry blood filled with nutrients away from the heart to all parts of the body. Arteries are thick-walled tubes with a circular covering of elastic fiber, which contain muscle that absorbs pressure of a heart beat and slows blood down. The system works continuously through a network of veins and arteries to ensure that oxygenated blood, needed for all vital functions, is distributed to organs and muscles (The American Medical Women's Association Guide to Cardiovascular Health, 1997).

Coronary heart disease is the major cause of cardiovascular disease, which is the number one cause of death in both men and women (The American Medical Women's Association Guide to Cardiovascular Health, 1997). Coronary heart disease refers to the presence of atherosclerosis in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the tissue of the heart, including its musculature and nervous system (Stress and the Social System Course Guide, 1993). Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes blood supply to be limited, which causes a buildup in the lining of the arteries that, narrows their openings.

Two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman did studies that resulted in...
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