Brain Activity May Predict Stress-Related Cardiovascular Risk

By Traci Pedersen

In the largest brain-imaging study of cardiovascular stress physiology to date, researchers have introduced a brain-based explanation of why stress might impact a person’s heart health.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, show that as we experience stressful events, our brains produce a distinct pattern of activity that appears to be directly tied to bodily reactions — such as rises in blood pressure — that increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.

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Stress in the Brain Today Manifests as Cardiovascular Problems Tomorrow

Zawn Villines, GoodTherapy.org Correspondent

Increased activity in the amygdala—a brain region associated with fear and other emotions—is correlated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study scheduled to be presented April 4 at the American College of Cardiology’s 65th Annual Scientific Session in Chicago.

Doctors have long believed stress could contribute to cardiovascular health issues, including high blood pressure and heart attacks, but the connection between the two issues was not well understood. This study sheds light on one mechanism by which stress might affect the heart.

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