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01-02-2013 | Special Article | Uitgave 2/2013

Netherlands Heart Journal 2/2013

Central nervous system involvement in the autonomic responses to psychological distress

Netherlands Heart Journal > Uitgave 2/2013
H. M. de Morree, B. M. Szabó, G.-J. Rutten, W. J. Kop


Psychological distress can trigger acute coronary syndromes and sudden cardiac death in vulnerable patients. The primary pathophysiological mechanism that plays a role in stress-induced cardiac events involves the autonomic nervous system, particularly disproportional sympathetic activation and parasympathetic withdrawal. This article describes the relation between psychological distress and autonomic nervous system function, with a focus on subsequent adverse cardiovascular outcomes. The role of the central nervous system in these associations is addressed, and a systematic review is presented of studies examining the association between stress-induced central nervous system responses measured by neuroimaging techniques and autonomic nervous system activation. Results of the systematic review indicate that the primary brain areas involved in the autonomic component of the brain-heart association are the insula, medial prefrontal cortex, and cerebellum (based on 121 participants across three studies that fitted the inclusion criteria). Other areas involved in stress-induced autonomic modulation are the (anterior) cingulate cortex, parietal cortex, somatomotor cortex/precentral gyrus, and temporal cortex. The interaction between central and autonomic nervous system responses may have implications for further investigations of the brain-heart associations and mechanisms by which acute and chronic psychological distress increase the risk of myocardial infarction, cardiac arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death.

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Netherlands Heart Journal

Het Netherlands Heart Journal wordt uitgegeven in samenwerking met de Nederlandse Vereniging voor Cardiologie en de Nederlandse Hartstichting. Het tijdschrift is Engelstalig en wordt gratis beschikbaa ...

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