Bacteria help explain why stress, fear trigger heart attacks

Scientists believe they have an explanation for the axiom that stress,
emotional shock, or overexertion may trigger heart attacks in vulnerable
people. Hormones released during these events appear to cause bacterial
biofilms on arterial walls to disperse, allowing plaque deposits to
rupture into the bloodstream, according to research published in
published today in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. At least one species of bacteria - Pseudomonas aeruginosa - commonly
associated with carotid arteries in our studies, was able to undergo a
biofilm dispersion response when exposed to norepinephrine, a hormone
responsible for the fight-or-flight response in humans," said Davies.
Because the biofilms are closely bound to arterial plaques, the
dispersal of a biofilm could cause the sudden release of the surrounding
arterial plaque, triggering a heart attack.

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