The link between emotional stress and heart disease has always been renowned, but doctors wanted to show exactly how stress and emotional strain can damage the heart. Studies have been developed in the sense and the results have been made public.
A new study appeared this week in The Lancet. The scientists involved claim to have found what is responsible with harming the heart in case of stress. It is the amygdala. This is the fear and tension region of the brain. Intense activity in the amygdala has been discovered to cause a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes.
They stated that this was a novel view on how stress and heart disease are related and the study could provide new solutions on how to treat cardiovascular diseases caused by stress. Therefore, reducing stress can not only benefit the psychological state of a person, but also their physiological state.
The study may allow for stress to be included among the most important factor risks for heart disease. Other such factors are smoking, diabetes, and high blood pressure. In the United States, heart attacks kill one in four women. Therefore, an awareness campaign with comprehensive information regarding the possible risks is welcome.
Chronic stress appears when people live in poverty, face heavy workloads, or worry too much. Continuous stress can lead to the apparition of depression or other chronic mental disorders.
The longitudinal study took an average of 3.7 years. After the subjects received scans of their brain, bone marrow, spleen, and arteries, they have been supervised during the whole period in order to see if they develop any cardiovascular conditions. Twenty two out of 300 participants recorded cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks, angina, stroke, or peripheral arterial disease. This makes up about 7.5 percent of the group.
Also, it has been observed that participants with a more intense amygdala activity develop heart disease way sooner than participants with a less intense amygdala activity.
The research needs more evidence in order to be validated but, given the convincing results, stress may be included on the list of high factor risks for cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, an important step in preventing heart conditions would be to lower the level of stress as much as possible.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons