Stressors such as job, marital and financial problems have been linked to the increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease including heart attack. But there hasn't been a biological marker to measure chronic stress.
Drs. Gideon Koren and Stan Van Uum developed a method to measure cortisol levels in hair providing an accurate assessment of stress levels in the months prior to an acute event such as a heart attack. The research is published on-line in the journal Stress.
Cortisol is considered to be a stress hormone. Its secretion is increased during times of stress. Traditionally it's been measured in serum, urine and saliva, but that only shows stress at the time of measurement, not over longer periods of time. Cortisol is also captured in the hair shaft.
"Intuitively we know stress is not good for you, but it's not easy to measure," explains Dr. Koren, who holds the Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. "We know that on average, hair grows one centimetre (cm) a month, and so if we take a hair sample six cm long, we can determine stress levels for six months by measuring the cortisol level in the hair."
In the study, hair samples three cm long were collected from 56 male adults who were admitted to the Meir Medical Centre in Kfar-Saba, Israel suffering heart attacks. A control group, made up of 56 male patients who were hospitalized for reasons other than a heart attack, was also asked for hair samples. Higher hair cortisol levels corresponding to the previous three months were found in the heart attack patients compared to the control group.
The prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, smoking and family history of coronary artery disease did not differ significantly between the two groups, although the heart attack group had more cholesterol problems. After accounting for the known risk factors, hair cortisol content emerged as the strongest predictor of heart attack.
"Stress is a serious part of modern life affecting many areas of health and life," says Dr. Koren. "This study has implications for research and for practice, as stress can be managed with lifestyle changes and psychotherapy."
The study was supported by Physician Services Inc. and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Kathy Wallis | EurekAlert!
Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society
Calcium may play a role in the development of Parkinson's disease
19.02.2018 | University of Cambridge
For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.
In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
19.02.2018 | Information Technology
19.02.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
19.02.2018 | Life Sciences