Studies show a link between anxiety and heart disease, and the risk of death may actually triple. These are frightening findings, as almost everyone struggles with some kind of anxiety and stress in their lives. Ask anyone who is juggling work, a home, family and friends about anxiety and they can likely tell you that they have had their fair share. It seems that a person can’t be an adult without experiencing some kind of stress, but many don’t think much about the long term effects that anxiety can have on the body.
Depression is often caused from anxiety and stress, and when left untreated, it can have major short term effects on a person’s health, but now it’s also important to consider the long term effects, as well. The studies found that in those that have cardiac problems, anxiety and depression can triple a person’s risk of death from heart conditions.
In March, the Journal of the American Heart Association published a report that covered the results of a recent study regarding Anxiety, depression and heart disease. In the study, 900 patients that had heart disease and were the average age of 62 were given questionnaires regarding how much depression and anxiety they felt just before they had a procedure that uses dyes and X-rays to see the arteries in the heart.
Of the studied 900, it became apparent that 90 of them suffered from anxiety, 65 of them had depression and 99 of the study participants suffered with both conditions. Over the next three years, the participants were followed up with, and 133 of them died. Of those that died, 93 of them had heart disease and 55 of them had depression, anxiety, or a combination of the two.
With anxiety being such a common problem in the United States, many health care professionals are recommending that patients with high blood pressure or other cardiovascular conditions will likely find that they benefit from additional anxiety treatments, such as medications designed to decrease these feelings.
Health care experts have found that anxiety has the potential to increase blood pressure, as well as inflammation. Depression often causes patients to avoid seeking medical care for their symptoms, as it is known to cause feelings of worthlessness and fatigue.
While the study did not actually prove without a doubt that anxiety and/or depression causes heart disease deaths, it has become clear that these conditions can often lead people to avoid seeking treatment for their health problems, and that mental illness such as anxiety and long term stress can have negative physical effects over time.
Health care professionals agree that at the very least, patients that have heart disease and also suffer from anxiety, depression or a combination of the two should seek cognitive behavioral therapy with a psychiatrist who specializes in this type of treatment. Patients should also make sure to have their heart condition closely monitored for any changes.