Why stress causes heart attacks

Scientists have discovered why stress is so harmful to the heart.
26 June 2014
Presented by Kat Arney


Electron microscopy of blood cells and platelets


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 arteries 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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