Brain study proves link between stress, inflammation, heart attack & death

New research shows that increased activity in the stress center of the brain leads to inflammation in arteries and a higher risk of heart attack, stroke and death.

The study, by the American College of Cardiology, showed subjects with greater activity in the brain’s stress center (the amygdala) had more inflammation in the arteries and stood a greater risk of cardiovascular problems. It also showed that stress stimulated bone marrow to release cells that may trigger inflammation in the body.

“Our study illuminates, for the first time, a relationship between activation of neural tissues…and subsequent heart disease events,” said the study’s co-author, Dr Ahmed Tawakol from Massachusetts General Hospital.

“…It’s become clear that stress is not only a result of adversity but may itself also be an important cause of disease. The risks of heart disease linked to stress (are) on par with that for smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes, yet relatively little is done to address this risk compared to other risk factors,” Tawakol said.


Giulia-CriscuoloPharmacist, complementary medicines expert and life coach, Giulia Criscuolo, says prolonged stress may also lead to anxiety and depression. She said research showed a 39% increase in antidepressant use in SA over the past four years. Criscuolo says studies show that at least 90% of those on anti-depressants experience at least one side effect such as anxiety, constipation, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, weight gain and sexual dysfunction such as low libido.

Criscuolo suggests the following to help counter stress, anxiety and depression:

  • Spend up to 30 minutes each day being quiet.
  • Do something physical for 30 minutes every day.
  • Spend time in nature. Walk on the beach, swim in the sea or hike up a mountain.
  • Pursue activities that nourish your body, mind and soul.
  • Put yourself first. This will enable you to serve others better.
  • Slow down. Seek balance. Be present. Pray or meditate every day.
  • Follow a healthy diet. Dark, green, leafy vegetables improve mood; fermented foods improve gut health and fatty fish are rich in omega 3 fats which help manage anxiety.
  • Avoid sugar and stimulants.
  • Increase intake of vitamins and minerals such as BetterYou’s Magnesium Oil and B12 Boost oral sprays.
  • Connect with others.
  • Seek credible natural remedies such as Felix, a food supplement which utilises a clinically researched extract of saffron called Satiereal, shown to help lower cardiovascular disease and treat mild to moderate depression. Saffron has been used for thousands of years as a traditional medicine, mood enhancer, stress reliever and aphrodisiac.


Felix is available in South Africa nationally at leading health stores, pharmacies and Dis-Chem.


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