“…investigators has linked, for the first time in humans, activity in a stress-sensitive structure within the brain to the risk of subsequent cardiovascular disease..findings…reveals a pathway leading from activation of that structure—the amygdala—through elevated immune system activity to an increased incidence of cardiovascular events.
“Animal studies have shown that:
- stress activates bone marrow to produce white blood cells
- leading to arterial inflammation
…this study identifies, for the first time in animal models or humans, the region of the brain that links stress to the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Amygdalar activity was also associated with the timing of events, as those with the highest levels of activity had events sooner than those with less extreme elevation, and greater amygdalar activity was also linked to elevated activity of the blood-cell-forming tissue in the bone marrow and spleen and to increased arterial inflammation. In the smaller study, participants’ current stress levels were strongly associated with both amygdalar activity and arterial inflammation.
“This pioneering study provides more evidence of a heart-brain connection, by elucidating a link between resting metabolic activity in the amygdala, a marker of stress, and subsequent cardiovascular events independently of established cardiovascular risk factors. We also show that amygdalar activity is related to increased associated perceived stress and to an increased vascular inflammation and hematopoeitic activity.”