Psychological meets physiological in this new Harvard Medical School research. At he center of this research is the brain’s amygdala region which processes emotions. The amygdala has the ability to signal the bone marrow to produce more white cells; leading to inflammation of the arteries. Knowledge is power and adding this important discovery into our understanding of cause and effect will yield self-care improvements.
Stress Link to Heart Disease Includes Brain Activity
The effect of constant stress on a deep-lying region of the brain explains the increased risk of heart attack, a study in The Lancet suggests.
In a study of 300 people, those with higher activity in the amygdala were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease – and sooner than others.
Stress could be as important a risk factor as smoking and high blood pressure, the US researchers said.
Heart experts said at-risk patients should be helped to manage stress.
Emotional stress has long been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which affects the heart and blood vessels – but the way this happens has not been properly understood.
This study, led by a team from Harvard Medical School, points to heightened activity in the amygdala – an area of the brain that processes emotions such as fear and anger – as helping to explain the link.
The researchers suggest that the amygdala signals to the bone marrow to produce extra white blood cells, which in turn act on the arteries causing them to become inflamed. This can then cause heart attacks, angina and strokes.
The Lancet research looked at two different studies. The first scanned the brain, bone marrow, spleen and arteries of 293 patients, who were tracked for nearly four years to see if they developed CVD. In this time, 22 patients did, and they were the ones with higher activity in the amygdala.
“Exploring the brain’s management of stress and discovering why it increases the risk of heart disease will allow us to develop new ways of managing chronic psychological stress. read more at bbc.com
Thanks Harvard Medical School for giving us a clearer picture of the direct effect stress has on inflammation. This will give us fuel to continue to find healthy ways to keep our emotions balanced for a healthier life.