Is your brain stressed? A new study shows that an amygdala that becomes overactive due to chronic stress can cause elevated levels of bone marrow activity, which ultimately results in arterial inflammation. Over time, arterial inflammation leads to atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries caused by buildups of plaque that block blood flow. Atherosclerosis can cause heart attack, stroke, and many other heart problems that stem from a lack of blood flow to the heart and brain.
Researchers used PET CT scans to observe the amygdala, the brain structure responsible for emotional behavior and motivation. Atherosclerosis development can be due to a combination of many other factors like lifestyle habits and genetics. However, to reduce the effect of stress on the brain on atherosclerosis development, experts recommend mediation, psychotherapy, and "rich social connections" to bring the amygdala down to a normal stress level.
Sources: Neuroscience Online, Wochit