posted at 03:51
Author: LiveScience
Bacteria in Arteries May Be Link Between Stress And Heart Attacks
The long-held belief that emotional or physical stress can trigger heart attacks may now have a scientific explanation: In stressed people, heart attacks might be triggered by bacteria dispersing within artery walls, causing fatty deposits in those blood vessels to rupture and clog blood flow, a new study says. The major cause of heart attacks is atherosclerosis - the hardening of the arteries - which occurs when fatty deposits, known as plaques, build up in arterial walls. Stress may make these bacteria disperse and release enzymes that could destabilize plaques. "Most of the bacteria associated with plaques are also associated with the skin or oral cavity," Davies said. Since biofilms are closely bound to arterial plaques, the investigators suggested that the dispersal of a biofilm could also disrupt arterial plaques and, in turn, trigger a heart attack. To disperse, the microbes release enzymes to escape from their sticky biofilms, and the researchers suggest these enzymes could also partially digest and weaken nearby tissues that normally prevent arterial plaques from rupturing into the bloodstream. The scientists are now examining other bacteria found in plaques that demonstrate the same behavior. These new findings suggest that when dealing with heart disease, "Management of bacteria within an arterial plaque lesion may be as important as, or potentially more important than, managing cholesterol," Davies said.

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