Emotional Stress – which is sometimes chronic
The progressive increase in the incidence of heart attacks in more industrialized countries, especially in comparison with less industrialized countries, has suggested al relation between the emotional stress imposed by our modern competitive, fast-paced, industrialised society and the development of coronary heart disease.
Heart attacks have been found to be more frequent in those with great ambition, compulsive striving, extreme competitiveness, drive for recognition and preoccupation with deadlines.
In a study conducted abroad among women only, it was found that heart attacks were five times more frequent in premenopausal women who were business or professional executives than among housewives.
The higher incidence in the first group was attributed to ambition and pressure imposed by a drive for achievement in a competitive society.
Whether any particular occupation causes more emotional stress than others, is true to an extent only; it depends mainly upon the individual in that occupation.
A feeling of security and love or a lack of them, also affects the disease process. This has been demonstrated by the following experimental study.
A group of investigators were studying the effects of a diet, high in fat and cholesterol in rabbits. At the end of the stipulated period the rabbits were killed, and arteries in their bodies were examined for evidence of atherosclerosis.
The results of the study should have been rather predictable, since it was known at the time from previous studies that a diet, high in fat and cholesterol would regularly cause obvious atherosclerotic changes in the arterial systems of rabbits.
But when a group of test rabbits demonstrated atherosclerotic changes which were 60 per cent less than the overall group, the investigators were astonished.
There was no obvious explanation for the unexpected result. Finally, an unplanned variable in the experiment was discovered.
The rabbits which were affected less severely were those who were fed and cared for by one of the investigators, and who during the course of the experiment, regularly took them from their cages and petted, stroked and ‘talked to them.
Was this a mere coincidence? Many bioscientists should have considered laughable the possibility that such rabbit-human interchanges, could play a role in atherosclerotic vascular disease.
In order to test this ‘coincidence’, systematic controlled studies were designed in which two groups of rabbits were again fed the same diet and were treated identically except that one group was removed from their cages several times a day for petting, and were ‘talked’ to each time by the same person.
The result was that the petted and ‘talked to’ group once again demonstrated a 60 per cent lower incidence of atherosclerosis.
Not content with the possibility of two coincidences, the investigators repeated the study. The results were the same. In an unexplained way, the human factor emerged.
Touching, petting, handing and gentle talking emerged as a crucial determinant in the disease process of atherosclerosis.
Gout and Uric Acid
The food we eat, after digestion an absorption, is metabolized to provide energy to the body for performing various functions. As a result of metabolism of food, some waste products result, one of which is uric acid.
If, through an imbalance in the system, excess uric acid gets accumulated in the body, the symptoms of gout occur. In gouty patients, coronary arteries are more likely to become atherosclerosed.
This was the finding of the Framingham study in the USA.
Built of the body
Some of the Western studies have indicated that body build with predominant maleness, masculinity and compactness is more liable to heart attack.
More recent studies in our country, however, do not support this view. Here a majority of heart attacks occur in people having an average build; even people with thin build are not immune to it.