Anxiety can increase risk of heart attack

By Lauren Edwards • Published: May 19th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

We all worry. From job to family stresses, everyone has troubles. Yet for those who suffer from chronic anxiety, a tense mental state may actually be hurting their health.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found chronic anxiety can considerably increase the risk of heart attack. And though women are often pegged as the gender that worries, this study focused solely on men. Researchers tracked more than seven-hundred men from the mid-1980s through 2004. All had healthy hearts at the beginning of the study, but by ’04, there were seventy-five heart attacks among the group. And for those deemed chronically anxious, the risk of suffering a heart attack increased by thirty to forty percent. Even when risk factors like cholesterol problems were taken into account, the link between anxiety and heart attacks remained.

Though researchers are unsure whether treating anxiety will help lower the risk of heart problems, it’s important to note that anxiety has a physiological effect on the body that’s similar to the one triggered by hostility. Raised heart rate, blood pressure and the production of more stress hormones comes along with chronic anxiety. So the more you stress, the more your heart does, too. Many of us have problems that cause us strain, and taking a moment to breathe and relax is often necessary. But if you are suffering from worry that just won’t go away, talk to your doctor. You won’t just be helping your head, but your heart, too.