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13-01-2017 | Cardiology | News | Article

News in brief

Brain activity could be key in stress–heart disease link

medwireNews: Researchers report in The Lancet that activity of the amygdala – a central component of the brain involved in emotion and stress – could link stress and cardiovascular disease.

Ahmed Tawakol (Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA) and colleagues found that amygdalar activity “robustly predicted” the risk for developing a cardiovascular event in an analysis of 293 people over a median follow-up of 3.7 years.

An increase of one standard deviation in amygdalar signal on ¹⁸F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography/computed tomography imaging was associated with a 1.6-fold increase in the risk for a cardiovascular event, and the association remained significant after adjustments for cardiovascular risk factors, Framingham risk scores, and pre-existing atherosclerotic disease burden.

The authors also showed that amygdalar activity was associated with increased hemopoietic activity and arterial inflammation, indicating that “[b]one-marrow activity was a significant mediator of the relation between amygdalar activity and arterial inflammation.”

Furthermore, perceived stress was associated with amygdalar activity and arterial inflammation in an additional cross-sectional study of 13 participants who underwent psychometric analysis.

In an accompanying comment, Ilze Bot and Johan Kuiper (both from Leiden University, the Netherlands) note that these findings “establish a connection between stress and cardiovascular disease, thus identifying chronic stress as a true risk factor for acute cardiovascular syndromes.”

And they conclude that chronic stress could “be included in risk assessments of cardiovascular disease in daily clinical practice.”

By Claire Barnard

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2017

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