It is true that there may be a link between cardiovascular disease and a part of the brain called amygdala, better known as the sentinel of emotions. Scientists at Harvard Medical School recently discovered that people with excessive activity in this brain structure may have an increased risk of heart attacks. The research may also give more clues about possible ways of preventing such problems.
The result of this scientific work came out this past Thursday in a medical publication called The Lancet. It will no longer be the first time that stress and chronic anxiety are linked to the risk of heart problems, the novelty is that these scientists may have finally discovered, in particular, why this happens.
To simplify, the scientists start from the idea that the amygdala is responsible for transmitting to the bone marrow, when it must produce more leucocytes (white blood cells), this to give the body the necessary tools to fight the infections that can arise if the situation that Generated the “fear” causing physical damage. The response to a situation of insecurity is an important survival mechanism; however, it has long been realized that the same innate responses can be triggered by common emotional problems such as stress at work.
Nowadays, day-to-day stress can easily put the amygdala under constant pressure to “order” the creation of white blood cells, which can cause arteries to develop inflammation and create health problems.
“Our results present an unprecedented description of how stress can lead to cardiovascular disease”, said Ahmed Tawakol, the lead investigator of the study, quoted by Reuters. He added that the findings “suggest that reducing stress can generate benefits that go beyond improvements in psychological well-being”.
A proposal is that people’s stress levels be studied along with other risk factors such as weight, diet, exercise and harmful habits that may exist such as tobacco.
“Overwork, insecurity in employment and living in poverty are circumstances that can result in chronic stress, which in turn can lead to chronic psychological problems such as depression”, said Ilze Bot, a Dutch specialist at Leiden Academic Center for Drug Research, quoted by The Telegraph.
This study was based on the follow-up of 293 patients over several years, but they all had other health problems, such as cancer, so scientists want to extend this study to more people, including absolutely healthy people, to try to reinforce the validity of these Conclusions.