High-stress life is more important in the world today than ever before. While stress generally contributes to health problems ranging from high blood pressure to diabetes, it can also lead to memory loss and brain shrinkage.
UT Health San Antonio reports that a research study has found out how higher levels of cortisol are a hormone associated with stress that has a negative effect on adults over 40 when they perform a memory test or perform cognitive tasks.
Sudha Sesadri, MD, Professor of Neurology at UT Health San Antonio, senior author of the study, said that we already know that stressed animals can suffer cognitive decline, higher cortisol levels in humans, especially in the morning, are associated with poorer brain structure and cognition.
Cortisol is one of the most important stress hormones in the human body and is best known for "fight or flight" instinct, CNN points out. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing more of this hormone and it completes various body functions that could hinder survival. Sometimes people can do almost incredible things.
The cortisol levels usually drop as soon as the emergency is over and this allows the functions to shut down in the body to work again, which means you are back to normal. However, if you do not lower your stress level, it means the body continues to suffer high levels of cortisol, which will not allow it to function normally.
This would lead to symptoms such as anxiety, depression, headaches and sleep disorders because the brain is lacking the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
"The brain is a very hungry organ, it requires an excessive amount of nutrients and oxygen to keep it healthy and functioning properly, so when the body needs those resources to cope with stress, there is less Ways to get to the brain, "says Keith Fargo, who directs scientific programs and moves to the Alzheimer's Association, CNN writes.
The study also found that higher cortisol levels in the blood are also associated with decreased brain volume.
It has been found that high cortisol levels are associated with more damage to the corona radiata (parts of the brain that are responsible for moving information) and the corpus callosum (the area between the two hemispheres of the brain)
Also Read: Six Ways to Cope with Stress in the Office and Stay Productive
The study also found that the brains of people with higher cortisol levels were found to be smaller in the levels who are responsible for thoughts, emotions, language and muscle function. Persons with high cortisol levels had 88.5 percent of the total brain brain volume compared to 88.7 percent in patients with normal cortisol levels.
In the article published by CNN was also pointed out to the effects of high cortisol on the brain brain volume only women.
Dr. Richard Isaacson, who heads the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine, said estrogen could increase cortisol.
"About 40 percent of women in the high-cortisol group of the study were on hormone replacement," Dr. Isaac cited
However, Seshadri points out that the finding should not have a negative impact on the use of hormone replacement drugs, and emphasizes that the study findings suggest an association between cortisol levels and memory loss rather than the hormone causes of dementia
More research is needed to further investigate high levels of cortisol and its effect on the brain. (acr / mut)