Still on the mind/body connection, another study has discovered that sudden stress can affect the heart. The research team says that emotional stress - possibly brought on by the sudden death of a loved one - can cause left ventricular dysfunction among people without previous heart problems.
The research team, from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, have found that emotionally stressed people suffer days of surges in adrenalin which can 'stun' the heart. But they aren't heart attacks as such, and any damage done to the heart can often be repaired.
The 19 patients in the study all came into hospital with symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pains, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and heart failure. But on examination, the patients - predominantly women - had no blockages in the arteries to the heart, or other clinical signs of a heart attack. But they did have very high levels of stress hormones, particularly adrenalin and noradrenalin, in their blood. These hormones at such high levels are toxic to the heart.