Americans are no stranger to stress, a fact which helps explain the high rates of high blood pressure and heart disease in the United States. Likewise, research indicates stress can also put the body at greater risk of stroke.
A Domino Effect
Published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, this report involved 293 participants, all of whom were required to undergo both PET and CT scans. Thanks to these scans, the authors were able to record the activity of these adults’ brains, bone marrow and spleens. The participants’ health was tracked for an average of 3.7 years.
During this follow-up period, the authors noted a correlation between stroke and increased activity in the amygdala, a region of the brain associated with stress. Specifically, the team contends that overactive amygdalas could trigger excessive white blood cell production by the bone marrow. In turn, these unnecessary white blood cells may cause inflammation of the arteries, potentially causing stroke.
The Weight of the World
A good summary of this study comes from Dr Ilze Bot, an associate professor at the Netherlands’ Leiden University. “In the past decade, more and more individuals experience psychosocial stress on a daily basis. Heavy workloads, job insecurity, or living in poverty are circumstances that can result in chronically increased stress, which in turn can lead to chronic psychological disorders such as depression.”