A person who is stressed out is more likely to have an acute myocardial infarction or a cerebral infarction than one who is not in that situation.
Stress poses a threat to the homeostasis of our organism. Our body reacts by establishing a series of responses aimed at re-establishing equilibrium. When stress remains a constant in our lives, these responses are perpetuated, leading to anomalies in the functioning of our cells.
Dr. Moisés De Vicente – Neolife Medical Team
There are numerous publications that link stress to an increase in cardiovascular risk.
Stress has entered our lives, and it is here to stay. The current pace of life means most of us live under a great deal of tension. It’s true that we suffered from stress in the past, but it was delivered in small doses. You could experience stress on the job, but once you left the workplace you could forget about everything and relax, recharging your batteries for the next day.
Not only that, stress was virtually confined to very specific places or moments. But today this has changed radically. There is not a moment in our day to day when we are not subjected to pressure, from the second we leave our homes until we come back in the evening. And in many cases, thanks to the new technologies we’ve so embraced, we can’t disconnect in the slightest even when relaxing in our own homes.
It seems almost impossible to reject the temptation to check our email before bedtime, connect to social networks, or check whether we have received a new message from the office. To top it off, we have transferred this stress onto our own children, subjecting them to exceedingly long days packed with extracurriculars. Even on weekends, in order to maximize our leisure time to the fullest, we jam pack our schedules from Friday afternoon to Sunday to ensure the maximum number of plans, which is just another way of stressing ourselves out.
There are numerous publications that link stress to increased risk of heart disease. A person who is stressed out is more likely to have an acute myocardial infarction or a cerebral infarction than one who is not in that situation. It is true that the presence of atherogenic factors has clearly been linked to the presence of heart disease. But it is also known that these factors themselves do not explain all events or cases (1).
It is also linked to the appearance of these vascular risk factors. In other words, not only is it an event-independent factor, it is also related to the emergence of classic risk factors, such as metabolic syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by the combination of central obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and hypertension. Its incidence has increased exponentially in first world societies, along with the presence of stress in these populations (2), following two very similar curves.
It has even been postulated that it can be a perfect trigger to alter the functioning of our immune system. In this way, it is linked to numerous autoimmune pathologies and has even been associated with the appearance of certain types of tumors (3), although the evidence is inconclusive.
Stress poses a threat to the homeostasis of our organism. Our body reacts by establishing a series of responses aimed at re-establishing homeostatic equilibrium. The integrity of the hypothalamus axis, pituitary and adrenal glands is indispensable in this struggle to regain stability. When it comes to specific episodes, it is a physiological, beneficial response, which we could even say is fundamental to our survival. When stress remains a constant in our lives, these responses are perpetuated, leading to anomalies in the functioning of our cells.
An article was published recently in which they related the presence of anxiety when reaching one’s 40s, secondary to this type of prolonged stress, to the appearance of dementia in old age (4). Specifically, they were able to link the appearance of dementia in patients who had suffered from stress 10 to 15 years prior to that.
The adrenal gland produces a series of corticoid metabolites that have receptors globally distributed throughout our brain. However, there are specific areas at the level of our limbic system and at the level of our cortical region that play a fundamental role when we adapt to stress. When maintained for a prolonged period, a series of changes occur at the level of neuronal plasticity (dendritic atrophy and decreased synaptic stimulation among neurons) that lead to a series of modifications in our behavior (5). The way these metabolic pathways lead to the onset of dementia has yet to be fully understood, but the fact remains true.
Therefore, knowing what we know, it is necessary to change. If we continue to be subjected to this kind of pressure the valve will eventually burst. Whether it’s in the form of a heart attack or in the form of dementia, sooner or later it’s going to catch up to us.
At Neolife, we are able to rigorously measure cardiovascular risks as well as detect the presence of certain pre-dementia symptoms with a complete neurocognitive study. Patients who present certain indications of these pathologies will require the right approach to alleviating stress as a complementary therapy to achieving greater success in our main objective: the prevention of diseases linked to the effects of aging. Certain nutritional supplements that provide tryptophan at also useful. This molecule is a precursor of serotonin, which allows you to regulate your mood and helps manage stress.
(1) Kyrou I, Chrousos GP, Tsigos C. Stress, visceral obesity, and metabolic complications. Ann NY Academi Science. 2006 Nov;1083:77-110.
(2) Innes KE, Vincent HK, Taylor AG. Chronic stress and insulin resistance-related indices of cardiovascular disease risk, part I: neurophysiological responses and pathological sequelae. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine. 2007 Jul-Aug;13(4):46-52.
(3) Hassett AL, Clauw DJ. The role of stress in rheumatic diseases. Arthritis Res Ther. 2010;12(3):123. Epub 2017. Doi:10.1186/ar3024.
(4) Gimson A, Schlosser M, Huntley JD, Marchant N. Support for midlife anxiety diagnosis as an independent risk factor for dementia: a systematic review. BMJ Open 2018;8:e019399. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019399.
(5) Radley JJ, Morrison JH. Repeated stress and structural plasticity in the brain. Ageing Res Rev. 2005 May;4(2):271-87.