Some of the most important examples of the harmful effects of the “bad stress” response are listed here:
- Elevations of blood fats, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, that increase the risk of developing atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries).
- Atherosclerosis and high blood pressure (hypertension) leading to arterial blood vessel problems that include circulation impairment, heart disease and stroke. In his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Stanford’s Robert Sapolsky says, “If your blood pressure rises to 180/120 when you are sprinting away from a lion, you are being adaptive, but if it is 180/120 every time you see a mess in your teenager’s bedroom, you could be headed for a cardiovascular disaster.”
- Metabolic Syndrome X. This is the term coined by Stanford’s Gerald M. Reaven, M.D. In his books, Syndrome X: Overcoming the Silent Killer That Can Give You a Heart Attack and Syndrome X, the Silent Killer: The New Heart Disease Risk, Dr. Reaven discusses this metabolic disturbance associated with insulin resistance that interferes with the body’s ability to move glucose into cells. Metabolic Syndrome X greatly increases the risk of developing blood vessel disease that can lead to heart disease, stroke and kidney failure.
- Suppression of the immune system, which increases vulnerability to infection and certain types of cancer
- Bone damage and weakness that contributes to fractures
- Muscle weakening and loss
- Memory loss and actual brain damage
- Functional symptoms and syndromes
- Gastrointestinal disease processes, including inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease), peptic ulcer disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), fatty liver and functional gut syndromes, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).