A scan of a brain used in a study carried out by Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, which associates the brain region called the amygdala – an area linked to stress – to greater risk of heart disease and stroke.
Christchurch Hospital saw a significant increase in people presenting with blocked brain arteries after the March 15 terror attack, a study has found.
Other studies have found a link between acute psychological stress and increased risk of cardiovascular events.
The study, published in this month’s Neurology, the magazine of the American Academy of Neurology, found the attack on two Christchurch mosques last year “was associated” with a marked increase in the number of stroke reperfusions at Christchurch Hospital. Reperfusion is a treatment to restore the flow of blood to an organ or tissue.
The Christchurch researchers found the rise was unlikely to be due to chance. They believed the increase was driven by a significantly higher rate of patients presenting with large vessel occlusions (LVO) – obstructions of brain vessels.
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The rise occurred despite no increase in the total number of ischaemic strokes, which occur when a clot blocks an artery in the brain.
The researchers considered whether the terror attack caused a rise in the total number of ischaemic strokes and/or their severity, or whether it was a coincidence that the rise happened after the attack.
The study compared the effect of the terror attack on ischaemic stroke admissions, occurrence of intracranial LVO and reperfusion therapy, in the week after the attack compared with weekly data from January 1, 2018, to April 21, 2019.
They found a rise in treatments in the week starting March 18 – three days after the terror attack.
“Although there was no strong effect on … admissions, there was a weak signal for increased national reperfusion treatments, suggesting that although the terror attack effect was mostly seen locally, a smaller more widespread impact remains possible.”
No other time periods reached the level of evidence for an increase, the study found.
There was no difference in the age, gender or rates of atrial fibrillation (an irregular, often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow) in ischaemic stroke patients in the week after the terror attack.
The terrorist who killed 51 people and injured dozens of others on March 15, 2019, was jailed for life without the possibility of parole in August.