Risky Living: Chronic Anxiety May Predict Heart Trouble

There is some new evidence proving the old adage that too much anxiety can give you a heart attack.

According to research published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, chronic anxiety increases the risk that an older man may have a heart attack. Previous research has shown that high stress may raise one’s risk of heart problems, this is the first study linking anxiety to similar outcomes. The research shows that the raised risk is not related to anger, hostility, depression, or having a type A personality.

The study included data on 735 men over an average of 12 years. Results suggested that the risk of heart attack among those with chronic anxiety was between 30 and 40 percent higher than those without the condition. Researchers suggest that highly anxious individuals ought to be aware of this increased risk and take steps to control their physiological risk factors.

Meanwhile, another study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry revealed that high levels of stress following the 9/11 terrorist attacks also increased the risk of heart problems in people with no prior history of difficulty.

The research references the fact that stress over time can increase one’s risk of heart disease, and showed that cardiovascular ailments were on the rise during the three years following the 2001 attacks. With data on 2,729 adults across the country, the researchers learned that even mild post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reactions put people at risk for heart problems years after the attacks.

Specifically, the study showed that prior to the attacks, 21.5 percent of those surveyed had heart problems, while 30.5 percent had them three years afterward. Further, those with acute stress responses to the attacks suffered a 53 percent increased incidence of heart issues over three years after.