The message about constant messaging: It can’t be good for your heart

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Call it "seeking behavior." We want that next message. We're not unlike our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, except we're hunting and gathering on digital devices.

"Our cortisol level rises each time we get that stimulus," said Dr. Tracy Stevens of the Muriel I. Kauffman Women's Heart Center at Saint Luke's Hospital.

Dr. Stevens says when that level rises throughout the day, it can't be good for the heart. She says constant stimulation of cortisol, the stress hormone, increases blood pressure and lays down belly fat. It also creates inflammation.

"That, we know, is the basic mechanism to make plaque rupture, and that's what results in heart attack and stroke," said the cardiologist.

That's why Shelle Jensen, who has high blood pressure, is glad she doesn't have the compulsion to be connected.

"My children a lot of times will get really frustrated -- that 'What? Where are you?' -- and I'll look at the phone. Uh, they've been trying to call me like five times and, of course, is it an emergency? No," said Jensen.

She believes in connecting to the world in other ways like listening to the crackle of the fire in the fireplace instead of the buzz of the phone.

"It's just more of my nature," said Jensen.

Dr. Stevens says we can all stand to be away from technology for at least a half hour a day.

"I just encourage everyone to find something that works for them and to commit to it," said Dr. Stevens.

It's about recognizing that you, unlike your phone, need to unplug in order to recharge.

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