A hormone secreted in response to stressful or exciting situations. Long-term stress is associated with high levels of cortisol. This is a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex which has a marked effect on carbohydrate metabolism and acts as an immunosuppressant. In the short term, physiological and psychological arousal results in the secretion of adrenaline into the blood, and noradrenaline into tissues. These hormones evolved so that we could deal rapidly with impending danger. They prepare our bodies for action by improving the blood supply to skeletal muscles and mobilizing energy stores. If stress hormones are too low, muscles have insufficient fuel and oxygen to respond quickly; however, excessive secretion of stress hormones can disturb the balance between fat and carbohydrate metabolism, and damage physical performance.
Subjects: Medicine and Health.