Mindfulness physical therapy, pain management, rehabilitation

Amygdala Activity, Arterial Inflammation and CVD Events

Tawakol and colleagues used a longitudinal study design to examine resting amygdala metabolic activity, arterial inflammation and subsequent cardiovascular disease events in 293 adults without known cardiovascular disease at baseline.1 In a separate cross-sectional design, the relationship between perceived stress, amygdala activity, arterial inflammation and C-reactive protein was assessed.

Twenty-two patients had a cardiac event in the 3.7-year follow-up period. Amygdala activity was associated with increased bone marrow activity, arterial inflammation and risk of cardiovascular disease events. In the cross-sectional study, amygdala activity was significantly associated with arterial inflammation. Perceived stress was associated with amygdala activity, arterial inflammation and C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation levels.

This is the first study to link amygdala activity to subsequent cardiovascular disease and illuminate a physiological mechanism associated with this relationship. Researchers also suggest the possibility that efforts to reduce psychosocial stress could have a beneficial influence on this process.

In addition, authors propose that increased amygdala activity and the subsequent elevated inflammatory response could be implicated in other medical conditions impacted by inflammation. If this is the case, the increase activation of bone marrow and ensuing release of pro-inflammatory mediators could contribute to processes that give rise to persistent pain conditions in patients with high levels of perceived stress.

1Tawakol A, Ishai A, Takx RA, et al. Relation between resting amygdalar activity and cardiovascular events: a longitudinal and cohort study. Lancet. 2017;389 (10071):834-845.