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.”
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