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The Dark Side of Stress

A recent study completed by scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School indicates that the more active the fear center of the brain is, the more likely a person is to experience a stroke or heart attack.  Now we know that stress is not only emotionally damaging, it can also be directly related to traumatic health events.

When the fear center of the brain is activated, it sends impulses throughout the body based on whether information received is processed as threatening, overwhelming, or anger-inducing, which leads to an experience of stress.

Researches in the study found that when the fear center of the brain lights up during a scan, the likelihood of the subject having a heart attack or stroke increases over the next three to four years.  They also found that people who experience more stress were more likely to have inflamed arteries, which is a symptom of heart disease.

If you think you are experiencing a stroke or heart attack, know that the symptoms of each are different.  Stroke symptoms include weakness or numbness in the face, arms, or legs, usually just on one side of the body; you could also lose your balance, become unable to talk properly, or have blurred vision.  Heart attack symptoms include pain or pressure in the arms, chest, or neck, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.