Wednesday, February 1, 2017
How Stress Influences Your Heart Attack and Stroke Risk.
Stress response is a lifesaving biological function that enables you to instinctively square-off against an assailant, for flight or fear. People who are highly stressed have higher activity in the amygdala. This in turn triggers arterial inflammation, which is a risk factor for heart disease, including heart attacks. However,living in today's modern world activates this same biological reaction in response to activities and events that have no life-threatening implications whatsoever, from speaking in public to filling out tax forms and sitting in traffic jams. The high number of stress-inducing situations we face on a daily basis can actually make it difficult to turn the stress response off, and marinating in corrosive stress hormones around the clock can have very serious consequences for your health, such as fat accumulation, high blood pressure and heart attack and many other health consequences associated with chronic stress. Acute stress can also have potentially lethal consequences. High stress also raises the level of disease-promoting white blood cells, and releases norepinephrine, which can cause dispersal of bacterial biofilms from arterial walls, thereby triggering a heart attack. According to recent research, stress increases your risk of heart attack and stroke by causing overactivity in the amygdala known as your brain’s fear center, this almond-shaped brain region, located in your temporal lobe, is activated in response to both real and perceived threats. Another recent research suggests the amygdala is also involved in the processing of other emotions, including positive ones, as well as the processing of emotional memories of all kinds. In a study, inflammation levels as well as brain and bone marrow activity of 293 participants were measured, all of the participants were over the age of 30, and none had a diagnosed heart problem. By the end of the observation period, which lasted between two and five years, 22 participants had experienced a serious cardiac event such as heart attack, stroke or angina (chest pain). Based on brain scans, the researchers were able to conclude that those with higher activity in the amygdala were at an elevated risk of a cardiac event. There appears to be a significant correlation between amygdala activity and arterial inflammation (which is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke). This was confirmed in another much smaller sub-study involving those with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Here, levels of C-reactive protein were also measured, showing that those reporting the highest stress levels also had the highest amygdala activity and higher levels of inflammatory markers.source