Anxiety May Increase Risk of Heart Attacks

Recent research seems to indicate a person’s mental condition may affect the condition of their heart. According to the study, which focused on veterans, anxiety disorders may increase a person’s likelihood of suffering a heart attack.

Researchers studied the medical records of almost 97, 000 veterans. Veterans found suffering with any of the anxiety disorders covered in the study were more likely to have a heart attack over the next 7 years than those not suffering from the disorders. Researchers limited their work to specific anxiety disorders to include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • Panic disorder;
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder; and
  • More generalized anxiety.

These findings built on already established findings linking the state of a person’s mental health to the state of their heart health. Previous studies have linked clinical depression to causing higher risks of heart disease but not much research has been done on the effects of anxiety disorders.

People suffering from clinical anxiety usually suffer from depression as well. With the two being so closely related, it has been difficult to determine just how anxiety disorders affect heart health.

It’s critical to note the study does not come to cause-and-effect conclusions. Rather, they only demonstrate an association between anxiety disorders and risks of heart attacks. Further, the differential between rates of heart attacks of those veterans suffering from anxiety disorders and those not suffering from anxiety disorders was very small.

When outside heart attack factors were controlled for, however, anxiety disorders caused veterans to have increased risk of heart attacks at a rate of 25-43% over those veterans not suffering from anxiety disorders. The controlled for factors included:

  • Age;
  • Smoking;
  • Drinking;
  • Diabetes;
  • High blood pressure; and
  • High cholesterol.

Of all the veterans in the study, none had heart problems in their medical history. What this research did not show is that treating the anxiety disorder will lower the veterans’ risk of suffering a heart attack. More research is needed in order to get to this point.

Learn more about how anxiety may increase the risk of heart attacks.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.