Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Anxiety may increase risk of heart disease

Anxiety disorders significantly increase a person's risk of developing heart disease and also raise the odds of suffering a fatal cardiac event, two new studies suggest. The first study, by Annelieke M. Roest, MSc, of Tilburg University in the Netherlands, combined data from 20 studies on nearly 250,000 people. The average follow-up period was 11 years. The researchers found that anxiety was associated with a 26% increased risk of coronary heart disease and a 48% increased risk of heart-related death over the follow-up period, even after adjusting for known heart disease risk factors. The second study, by Imre Janszky, MD, PhD, of Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, also found that anxiety disorders are predictive of future heart disease even after controlling for other risk factors such as blood pressure and smoking. Anxiety more than doubled the subsequent risk of developing coronary blockages or having a heart attack. They examined data on 50,000 young Swedish men evaluated for military service between ages 18 and 20, with a follow-up of about 37 years. The studies and an accompanying editorial by Joel Dimsdale, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Diego, are now online and scheduled for publication in the June 29 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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