THE HEART OF THE MATTER
a special program of the National Emergency Medicine Association (NEMA) 

Week: 608.2

Guest: Dr. Elizabeth Gullette, researcher, Duke University Medical Center

Topic: Study on ischmia and emotions

Host/Producer: Steve Girard

NEMA: Stress & your heart...coming up...

SPOT: 15 years in the prevention of heart disease, stroke and trauma - the National Emergency Medicine Association. Call 800-332- 6362.

NEMA: Ischemia is a temporary lack of oxygen to the heart, and often lies along the road to heart attack...

GULLETTE: Both exercise and mental stress...or negative emotions, can cause ischemia to happen. This sort of unexplained variability, was really what was driving us, because we thought it was logical that mental stress would be causing ischemia during daily life, so that’s really why we did the study.

NEMA: Dr. Elizabeth Gullette of Duke University says the study involved monitoring heart patients’ EKG readings and correlating them to a diary of how they felt, taken several times an hour for two days...

GULLETTE: We were able to actually show a temporal, causal link of mental stress causing ischemia. And we were a bit surprised at the level of risk. We found that the negative emotions - tension, sadness and frustration actually carried a two to three fold increase risk of ischemia.

NEMA: Emotions seem to engage the sympathetic nervous system, which is thought to be assoicated with ischemia...

GULLETTE: We can decrease the frequency of negative emotions overall, and regular exercise can help to sort of shore-up the body’s cardiovascular system against these insults.

NEMA: Not just for heart patients, but for all of us. I’m Steve Girard at The Heart of the Matter.