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To reduce heart disease and stroke risks, regulate stress and improve brain health

heart_brain—–

How stress may increase risk of heart dis­ease and stroke (Sci­enceDai­ly):

Height­ened activ­i­ty in the amyg­dala — a region of the brain involved in stress — is asso­ci­at­ed with a greater risk of heart dis­ease and stroke, accord­ing to a study pub­lished in The Lancet that pro­vides new insights into the pos­si­ble mech­a­nism by which stress can lead to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in humans…In this study, 293 patients were giv­en a com­bined PET/CT scan to record their brain, bone mar­row and spleen activ­i­ty and inflam­ma­tion of their arter­ies. The patients were then tracked for an aver­age of 3.7 years to see if they devel­oped car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease…

Those with high­er amyg­dala activ­i­ty had a greater risk of sub­se­quent car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and devel­oped prob­lems soon­er than those with low­er activity…The authors sug­gest a pos­si­ble bio­log­i­cal mech­a­nism, where­by the amyg­dala sig­nals to the bone mar­row to pro­duce extra white blood cells, which in turn act on the arter­ies caus­ing them to devel­op plaques and become inflamed, which can cause heart attack and stroke…

Dr Ilze Bot, Lei­den Aca­d­e­m­ic Cen­tre for Drug Research, Lei­den Uni­ver­si­ty, The Nether­lands, said: “In the past decade, more and more indi­vid­u­als expe­ri­ence psy­choso­cial stress on a dai­ly basis. Heavy work­loads, job inse­cu­ri­ty, or liv­ing in pover­ty are cir­cum­stances that can result in chron­i­cal­ly increased stress, which in turn can lead to chron­ic psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­ders such as depres­sion.” She says that more research is need­ed to con­firm the mech­a­nism but con­cludes: “These clin­i­cal data estab­lish a con­nec­tion between stress and car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, thus iden­ti­fy­ing chron­ic stress as a true risk fac­tor for acute car­dio­vas­cu­lar syn­dromes, which could, giv­en the increas­ing num­ber of indi­vid­u­als with chron­ic stress, be includ­ed in risk assess­ments of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in dai­ly clin­i­cal prac­tice.”

Study: Rela­tion between rest­ing amyg­dalar activ­i­ty and car­dio­vas­cu­lar events: a lon­gi­tu­di­nal and cohort study (The Lancet). From the abstract:

  • Back­ground: Emo­tion­al stress is asso­ci­at­ed with increased risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. We imaged the amyg­dala, a brain region involved in stress, to deter­mine whether its rest­ing meta­bol­ic activ­i­ty pre­dicts risk of sub­se­quent car­dio­vas­cu­lar events.
  • Find­ings & Inter­pre­ta­tion: In this first study to link region­al brain activ­i­ty to sub­se­quent car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, amyg­dalar activ­i­ty inde­pen­dent­ly and robust­ly pre­dict­ed car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease events. Amyg­dalar activ­i­ty is involved part­ly via a path that includes increased bone-mar­row activ­i­ty and arte­r­i­al inflam­ma­tion. These find­ings pro­vide nov­el insights into the mech­a­nism through which emo­tion­al stres­sors can lead to car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease in human beings.

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