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Study suggests why heart attack victims do better with social support
Date:9/18/2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio Researchers have identified specific damages to the brain that may occur when heart attack victims are socially isolated from others.

The study in mice found that those animals that lived alone before undergoing a heart attack showed five to eight times more damage to neurons in one part of the brain than did similar animals that lived with others.

While studies in humans have shown that socially isolated heart attack victims have a lower survival rate than others, this study may help reveal the mechanisms behind that result, said Zachary Weil, co-author of the study and former doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University.

"This study shows that there are basic changes that occur in the brain when a heart attack victim is socially isolated," Weil said.

"In these mice, living with others seemed to provide strong protection from some of the damaging results of a heart attack."

The study appears in the October 2008 issue of the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

In the study, mice were put into two groups members of one group lived alone, while the others lived communally in a cage with four other mice.

After two weeks with these living arrangements, some of the mice underwent a surgically induced heart attack. Those in a control group underwent the same surgical procedure, but the researchers prevented any loss of oxygen to the brain that would occur in a typical heart attack.

Brain tissue and blood samples were later collected from the mice. Researchers compared damage in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that plays a key role in memory. A lack of oxygen during a severe heart attack one where the victim stops breathing can either kill or seriously damage neurons, the primary cells of the nervous system.

Results showed that the mice that were socially isolated prior to the heart attack showed five to eight times more damage to their neurons comp
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Contact: Courtney DeVries
Devries.14@osu.edu
614-292-7353
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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