An active amygdala  —  the region of the brain that kicks into gear when you’re stressed out  —  may be linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, according to a new study in The Lancet.

Researchers scanned the brains of 293 people with existing heart problems, and found a link between brain and bone marrow activity as well as artery inflammation. In animal models, these three areas  —  the brain, bone marrow and arteries  —  were linked, where stress triggered the amygdala, and in turn, activated bone marrow and artery inflammation.

The process appears similar for humans: the study found that people with more active amygdalae  —  as in, more stressed out  —  suffered from heart attacks and strokes sooner than subjects with less active amygdalae.

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