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


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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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