Stress and stroke

How many of us in past years have been told by doctors that we are suffering from stress, nothing else to worry about. Now scientists have identified that people who have heightened activity in part of their brain due to stress and anxiety, are actually more at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The amygdala is responsible for telling the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells temporarily; these cells fight infection and repair damage. If exposed to chronic stress it can lead to the over -production of white blood cells and these can form plaque in the arteries which scientists believe lead to heart disease.

Dr Ilez Bot at the  Leiden Academic Centre for drug research, Leiden University. Netherlands ran a study using 293 patients over 3.7 years to see if they developed cardiovascular disease. During that time 22 patients experienced cardiovascular events including heart attack, heart failure, angina, peripheral arterial disease and stroke. The ones with higher amygdala activity had greater risk of further cardiovascular problems than those with lower activity.

Dr Bot also pointed out that in today’s society with heavy workloads, job insecurity, increased poverty all of which being circumstances that can result in chronically increased stress which can also lead to chronic phycological disorders such as depression, then chronic stress is a true risk factor in causing acute cardiovascular syndromes. Maybe, therefore, it should be included in assessments of cardiovascular disease in daily clinical practice.

Maybe as individuals, we should also be mindful of this and do our part too. Not only for ourselves but friends and family members also. Possibly we could make it more ‘normal’ whatever normal is to do more outdoor activities just simple walks and picnics, time in the fresh air and relaxing. Obviously too other relaxing activities. Also, any other activities to reduce stress and unwind hopefully, therefore, encouraging beneficial health benefits.

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