«We are all Charlie!» What are the cardiovascular consequences?

Christophe Scavée Published in the journal : November 2016 Category : GRAPA

Summary :

Cardiovascular diseases remain the principal cause of natural death worldwide. Besides the standard risk factors, there is also stress, an undervalued source of cardiac events. Among the underlying causes of stress, there are natural disasters, as well as terrorism, with the latter having now reached Europe. A recent study revealed that, following the attacks at Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the number of both sudden deaths and hospitalizations for cardiovascular events abruptly rose. Similar statistics were observed in the US after the 2001 attacks in New-York, or in the aftermath of a major earthquake in Los Angeles. As a result, the harmful effects of stress must be better assessed in order to enable us to minimize its impact on the individuals’ health.

What does this article bring up for us?

This article summarizes the observations available aimed to assess the extent of stress consequences on individuals’ cardiovascular health. It also provides insight into the close relationship between acute stress triggered by major events like terrorist attacks, wars, and earthquakes, and the activation of a complex cascade of physical and biological events that eventually lead to heart attack.

Practical recommendations

Similarly, to standard risk factors, acute stress may result in serious cardiovascular events like myocardial infarction or sudden death. Given that this risk factor is not well-known and rather underestimated, sensibilization campaigns should be implemented to enable us to better identify these stress factors and treat them appropriately, in the same manner as we treat hypertension, diabetes, cholesterol, and smoking.

Key Words

Stress, terrorism, cardiac diseases, sudden cardiac death