Stress and hemostasis: an update

Austin, Anthony W.; Wissmann, Thomas; von Känel, Roland (2013). Stress and hemostasis: an update. Seminars in thrombosis and hemostasis, 39(8), pp. 902-912. Thieme Medical Publishers 10.1055/s-0033-1357487

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Numerous naturalistic, experimental, and mechanistic studies strongly support the notion that-as part of fight-or-flight response-hemostatic responses to acute psychosocial stress result in net hypercoagulability, which would protect a healthy organism from bleeding in case of injury. Sociodemographic factors, mental states, and comorbidities are important modulators of the acute prothrombotic stress response. In patients with atherosclerosis, exaggerated and prolonged stress-hypercoagulability might accelerate coronary thrombus growth following plaque rupture. Against a background risk from acquired prothrombotic conditions and inherited thrombophilia, acute stress also might trigger venous thromboembolic events. Chronic stressors such as job strain, dementia caregiving, and posttraumatic stress disorder as well as psychological distress from depressive and anxiety symptoms elicit a chronic low-grade hypercoagulable state that is no longer viewed as physiological but might impair vascular health. Through activation of the sympathetic nervous system, higher order cognitive processes and corticolimbic brain areas shape the acute prothrombotic stress response. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and autonomic dysfunction, including vagal withdrawal, are important regulators of hemostatic activity with longer lasting stress. Randomized placebo-controlled trials suggest that several cardiovascular drugs attenuate the acute prothrombotic stress response. Behavioral interventions and psychotropic medications might mitigate chronic low-grade hypercoagulability in stressed individuals, but further studies are clearly needed. Restoring normal hemostatic function with biobehavioral interventions bears the potential to ultimately decrease the risk of thrombotic diseases.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology > Centre of Competence for Psychosomatic Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

von Känel, Roland


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Thieme Medical Publishers




Annette Barbara Kocher

Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2014 11:37

Last Modified:

09 Dec 2014 14:26

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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