“Don’t stress, you’ll give yourself a heart attack” has been a common phrase in our vernacular for a long time now. However it is only recently that scientists have uncovered the true links between stress and the causation of heart attacks or strokes.
Researchers from the Harvard Medical School in Boston have released a study which shows the truth of that first statement: they believe that chronic stress leads to heart-attack and stroke by triggering over-production of white blood cells. These cells under normal circumstances are the soldiers of the body for fighting disease, however, if produced in excessive quantities, scientists believe they clump together on the inner walls of your arteries, restricting blood flow and encouraging the formation of clots.
Of course, if you have the formation of blood clots in your body, you are in danger of them breaking away and causing the blockages that can lead to both heart attacks and strokes.
The completion of this study means that, while doctors have always commonly understood that chronic stress can lead to these health issues, now they finally know the mechanism.
Whereas white blood cells are essential when it comes to fighting off infection or wound healing, it is possible for them to turn against their host with devastating consequences. Studies on mice who had a tendency for atherosclerosis (where the artery walls are thickened due to plaque build-up), found that under stressful conditions, the excess white blood cells produced boosted the build-up of plaque on artery walls.
This finding provides even more reason for those who already have arterial conditions to avoid chronic stress. Of course, chronic stress in anyone, healthy or otherwise will negatively impact your health… Time for some changes?