Stress raises heart disease and stroke risk

17th Jan 2017

New research has shown that people with heightened activity in the amygdala may be at greater risk of heart disease and stroke. The amygdala is a part of the brain linked with stress and emotions.

In the study, the scientists gave 293 patients brain and body scans to record their brain, bone marrow and inflammation of their arteries. The patients were then tracked over an average of 3.7 years to see if they developed heart disease. 22 of these patients had cardiovascular events during the time, including heart attack, heart failure, stroke and peripheral arterial disease. 

The researchers found that stress signalled in the amygdala was linked to increased bone marrow activity and inflammation in the arteries, which can cause heart attacks and strokes. They suggested that the biological mechanisms could be that the amygdala triggers the bone marrow to produce extra white blood cells, which then causes the arteries to develop plaques and become inflamed. This research supports previous findings done on animals.

These findings raise the possibility that reducing stress could produce benefits that extend beyond an improved sense of psychological wellbeing, and lead to new ways to treat stress related heart problems.

To read the full article, please visit Lancet website

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