Science Podcasts

Special episode

Wed, 25th Jun 2014

Why stress causes heart attacks

white blood cells (c) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SEM_blood_cells.jpg

You've probably heard the idea that stress gives you a heart attack, and we certainly know that it is a risk factor, along with things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking. But exactly how stress affects the body to increase the chances of having a heart attack is a bit of a mystery. 

 

Now a team of US and German scientists think they might have figured it out. It turns out that stress increases the number of immune cells, known as white blood cells, in atherosclerotic plaques - the fatty blobs that clog up your veins and give you a dicky ticker.  

 

Lead researcher Matthias Nahrendorf spoke to Kat Arney from Harvard Medical School to explain more about the link.

 

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