A new study published in the journal JAMA Network has highlighted the close relationship between stress and the risk of heart attack. The authors analyzed 918 patients for signs of cardiac ischemia (also known as myocardial ischemia, which is a decrease in the passage of blood through the arteries) and followed their heart health for a few years.
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According to the article, mental stress had a significant impact on the hearts and lives of patients, who were more likely to suffer a heart attack or die from cardiovascular disease in the years that followed. These new findings are in line with a previous study, which found that high levels of stress are twice as likely to have a heart attack.
The study mentions that stress can be caused by incidents such as losing a job or the death of a loved one, for example, but it can also result from continued economic insecurity, living in an area of high crime or depression.
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The impact of stress starts in the brain, more precisely in the fear circuits. The amygdala (a brain structure responsible for manifesting emotional reactions) then releases some hormones that, over time, can increase body fat levels, blood pressure, and insulin resistance. The body's reactions to stress can also cause inflammation in the arteries, blood clotting, and impaired blood vessel function.
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