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Stress Increases Inflammatory Response in Heart Patients

Higher levels of C-reactive protein observed in patients subjected to mental and physical stress

THURSDAY, March 27 (HealthDay News) -- In individuals subjected to mental and physical stress, the inflammatory response is significantly higher among those with coronary artery disease than among healthy controls, according to research published in the March 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Willem J. Kop, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, and colleagues studied 36 patients who had undergone successful elective percutaneous coronary intervention and 28 healthy controls without a history of coronary artery disease. They measured levels of inflammatory markers associated with mental challenge tasks and treadmill exercise.

Compared to healthy controls, the researchers found that median C-reactive protein (CRP) increases among coronary artery disease patients were significantly higher during mental challenge tasks (0.19 versus 0.01) and during exercise (0.57 versus 0.08). They also found that an increased norepinephrine response was associated with higher levels of CRP and IL-6 during mental challenge tasks and that levels of CRP, IL-6 and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 increased during exercise.

"These stress-induced increases occur in the absence of myocardial ischemia and are related to the neurohormonal stress response," the authors conclude. "Further research is needed to examine whether increased inflammatory responsiveness to exogenous challenges is associated with increased risk of incident and recurrent cardiac events."

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