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NCCIH Research Blog

Lecture To Feature Heart-Brain Interactions and Reducing CVD Risks, Including via Integrative Health

November 2, 2023

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NCCIH Research Blog Team

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

Dr. Ahmed Tawakol

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is excited to invite you to the 2023 Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary Therapies on Wednesday, December 6, 2023, from noon to 1:15 p.m. ET. Ahmed Tawakol, M.D., will present via VideoCast “Novel Insights Into Heart-Brain Interactions and Neurobiological Resilience.”

Dr. Tawakol is director of nuclear cardiology and co-director of the Cardiovascular Imaging Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. 

Many studies, he notes, have shown that stress and depression are associated with heightened amygdalar activity relative to regulatory activity in the cortex. Multisystem research has shown that increased stress-neural network activity triggers sympathetic system activity and induces other consequences that lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD) events.

Dr. Tawakol will review findings from studies that shed light on mechanisms underlying heart-brain interactions, especially neuro-immune-cardiovascular pathways. He will discuss social, environmental, and genetic modulators of these pathways. “Neurobiological resilience” will also be a topic, along with how maintaining lower stress-related neural activity, even in the face of chronic stressors, reduces people’s CVD risks. 

Lifestyle interventions to support this goal will be discussed as well, with potential examples including tai chi, acupuncture, yoga, and meditation. 

The annual Stephen E. Straus Distinguished Lecture in the Science of Complementary Therapies honors our founding director, Dr. Stephen Straus. It is presented by NCCIH and supported by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health with a generous gift from Bernard and Barbro Osher.

We hope that you can join us! To attend, please register (no charge) to receive the livestream link. More details are on the event page. To request reasonable accommodations to participate, please email by November 29. 


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