Sunday, January 17, 2010
Stress 'can cause heart damage'
For years, stress has been linked to heart attacks and various other heart complaints but with very little medical evidence to back it up. Now, a trial by doctors at University College London has proved that people who get stressed are also likely to have silent coronary artery disease. The study involved 514 men and women, with an average age of 62. None of the participants had signs of heart disease at the time of the test. Each underwent stress tests and then the levels of the hormone cortisol in their systems were measured. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone and is produced by the body when it comes under mental or physical strain. When it is released, it causes the arteries to narrow. The participants' arteries were also scanned for any signs of an accumulation of fatty materials on the inner linings of arteries, or furring. Those people who were stressed by the tests were twice as likely to have furred arteries as those who remained calm, the study in the European Heart Journal found. Prof Avijit Lahiri, a cardiologist, said: 'This study shows a clear-cut relationship between stress and silent coronary artery disease. This is the first clear proof.'