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Amygdala Studies Show Link To Stress And Heart Problems

Update Date: Jan 17, 2017 02:37 AM EST

New research headed by Dr. Ahmed Tawakol of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, found how stress is linked to respiratory diseases. Findings point to a part of the brain that may be the source of heart attacks or stroke. 

"While the link between stress and heart disease has long been established, the mechanism mediating that risk has not been clearly understood," Tawakol said. The research found evidence that adults with higher stress levels or an increase activity in the amygdala are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.  

Amygdala is the part of the brain that regulates the body's response to stress and fear. 

According to Daily Express, Tawakol and his team gathered 293 adults that were suffering from any heart disease. Each of the patient's brain, arteries, bone marrow and spleen were monitored. PET and CT scans were performed to track their health.

After 3 to 7 years, patients went back for a follow-up check up to see if they had any heart attacks, strokes or heart failures for the past years. Only 22 out of the 293 patients had a heart attack and their scan results show that their amygdala were more active than others. They had a significant increase in inflammation and more activity in the bone marrow that triggered the amygdala.

According to World Health Organization, heart-related diseases are the major cause of death among men and women globally, where more people have died annually.

Tawakol added, "Findings suggest several potential opportunities to reduce cardiovascular risk attributable to stress." More studies are suggested to develop more understanding on how to find ways to help manage and prevent heart diseases.

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