How Stress Can Lead To Heart Disease

Posted: Jan 12 2017, 1:11pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

How Stress can Lead to Heart Disease
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  • High Stress Levels may be Precursors of Cardiac Arrest and Stroke
 

It is being said that high stress levels may be precursors of cardiac arrest and stroke.

Great activity in the amygdala, a region of the brain involved in stress responses, has been linked to heart attacks and strokes. Stress is thus one of the causal factors behind CV disease.

More studies still need to be done though. However, this current study lays the baseline for this finding. Smoking, hypertension and high blood glucose levels have been implicated in CV disease. Stress due to psychological and social causes has now been added to the list.  

Animal research showed that stress and heightened activity in the bone marrow and arteries had a connection with each other. What remained uncertain was whether this had any application to human beings.

The amygdala is more active in people with PTSD, anxious personalities and depressive illness. Yet this new finding regarding stress levels and heart disease and stroke is a game changer for the field of medicine.

293 patients were given PET/CT scans to find out their brain, bone marrow, spleen and artery activity levels. They were furthermore monitored for 3.7 years to see whether they got CV disease in the end.  

During the course of this tracking, 22 of them contracted heart attacks, angina, heart failure, stroke and peripheral artery disease. Those with greater amygdala activity had more chances of contracting these illnesses.

Bone marrow activity increased among them and they also showed inflammation of the arteries. The amygdala supposedly acts on the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells which cause artery inflammation. This opens the floodgates to all sorts of CV diseases. 

In a smaller study, 13 patients who had PTSD had their stress levels monitored. Also their levels of C-reactive protein were measured. This protein is an indicator of the level of inflammation in the body.

Stress was the causal factor in all this. Stress thus leads to CV disease. Stress relief is also the main means of treatment for heart attack and stroke. A sense of well-being is paramount in warding off the symptoms of CV disease.

The thing which ought to be targeted is chronic stress. There are also other mechanisms through which the amygdala could contribute to heart disease and stroke. Further studies will look into these mechanisms and processes. 

This study is published in The Lancet.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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