Cortisol Levels in Hair Can Predict Heart Attack with Precision

It was not possibly to measure chronic stress biologically until now. But Canadian researchers at The University of Western Ontario have found that levels of the cortisol hormone in hair can be measured to predict the risk of heart attack with precision.

Results of their findings are published in the September 2010 on-line issue of the journal Stress. For the first time medical world is provided with a simple biological marker of chronic stress. The following developments can have far reaching implications. This article tries to further insight on this topic.

What is Cortisol?

Hormones are basically the signalling molecules in our body. They either initiate or end a biological process. Cortisol is one such hormone and is released in the blood, urine and saliva when we are stressed. But its presence in these locations shows the levels of stress only at the time of measurement.

Knowledge Gained from Research:

  • Cortisol is trapped in hair as well which grows 1 centimetre every month.
  • The researchers found that a three centimetre long hair can help us to determine the stress levels of past three months.
  • The experiment which provided the proof was carried out the Meir Medical Centre in Kfar-Saba, Israel.
  • Three centimetre long hair samples were collected from 56 heart attack patients.
  • Equal number of people not suffering heart ailments also gave their hair samples for comparison of results.
  • The study found that heart attack patients had high levels of cortisol hormone in their hair sample for last three months.
  • Compared to other risk factors, high cortisol levels emerged as the strongest indicator of heart attack.

Risk Factors of Heart Attack are:

  • High cholesterol level in blood
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Consumption of excess salt in food
  • Eating high fat content diet
  • Over weight
  • Family history of heart ailments
  • Pain in heart technically called angina
  • Previous heart attack
  • Poor diet
  • High blood pressure
  • Sedentary life style
  • Lack of exercise
  • Depression

Early diagnosis of any disease depends upon identification of the symptoms. But in 25 percent of cases, heart attack is suffered by people without experiencing the signs. It causes 1 in every 5 deaths in the United States. Knowledge of the biological markers can help in ringing the alarm bells well in time to avoid complications.

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