Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Anxiety and Heart Attacks

Many psychological factors such as stress and hostility have been associated with an increased risk of heart attacks. A recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology evaluated whether anxiety independently and prospectively predicts the onset of heart attack (myocardial infarction - MI).

The study included 638 men (mostly Caucasian) with a mean age of 60 who did not have any history of heart disease. Initial evaluations were done with the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a full psychosocial assessment, laboratory data, and full medical exams. The evaluations were repeated every 3 years over a course of 12 years. Other variables such as smoking, lipids, and body mass index were taken into account. By 2004, there were 74 new cases of heart attacks. In univariate analyses, all measures of anxiety predicted future MI with a relative risk of 1.31 to 1.39. Clinically significant anxiety was associated with a relative risk of 2.1 - 2.5. It was concluded that moderate to severe anxiety was associated with a higher risk of heart attacks in this group of older white men.

It should be noted that anxiety is common in our culture and in all age groups. It is one of the most common conditions that I see in my practice. The causes may be situational or biological. There are many ways to cope with and manage anxiety. Here's a free on-line relaxation audio program. There are many other techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation or deep breathing techniques which may be used. If these techniques are not successful then a mental health professional and medications may be helpful. Consult your physician if you have concerns about symptoms of anxiety.

Resources for patients:
National Institute of Mental Health, toll-free information line is 1-866-615-6464.
Anxiety Disorders Association of America. 8730 Georgia Avenue - Suite 600Silver Spring, MD 20910 Telephone: 240-485-1001Fax: 240-485-103

References: see above links.
Photo: courtesy of photo blog graphoria.


Haleh said...

Thank you Dr Google for writing about this. I shall give the relaxation audios a try as god knows I need every bit of relaxation I can get my hands on! :)

Hope all is well with you.

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