A new study from Harvard Medical School in Boston has discovered a frightening new finding about why stress is not good for you: stress can cause heart attacks. To be more precise, stress can cause your body to produce too much white blood cells, which, in turn, can create heart problems.
While white blood cells fight diseases, they can do more harm than good when produced in excess. When there is an abundance of white blood cells, the extra cells create blockage by sticking to the inner walls of your arteries. This restricts flood flow, forms clots that block circulation, and can result in a heart attack.
“[They] are important to fight infection and healing, but if you have too many of them, or they are in the wrong place, they can be harmful,” said study co-author and biologist Matthias Nahrendorf of the Harvard Medical School, according to reports by Agence France-Presse.
These findings, which have been published in journal Nature Medicine, are especially troublesome for those who already have an existing heart condition (say, atherosclerosis) as it leaves them at more risk of a heart attack. In these patients, added stress can result in a heart attack or a stroke.
“The idea has been out there that chronic psychosocial stress is associated with increased cardiovascular disease in humans, but what’s been lacking is a mechanism,” explains physician and atherosclerosis researcher Alan Tall of Columbia University to Science magazine about the significance of the study.
The perils associated with stress neither start nor stop here. Chronic stress has been affiliated with anxiety, depression, digestive problems, sleep problems, weight gain, memory and concentration impairment, high blood pressure, diabetes, skin problems, susceptibility to infection, and infertility.