For years, researchers have believed that there is a strong connection between anxiety and heart disease.
Anxiety forces the heart to work harder — the body tenses, blood pressure rises and heart rate increases. Artery linings may be harmed.
When damaged, blood platelets stick to the injured artery walls, attempting to promote healing. This causes arterial walls to thicken. Then fatty acids and glucose are released into the bloodstream. If these convert into natural fat and cholesterol, blood flow can decrease.
Anxiety’s physical symptoms can also be harmful for those with existing heart disease.
Studies support the hypothesis that anxiety disorders significantly increase the risk of developing heart disease, and also increase the odds of fatal cardiovascular events such as serious heart conditions like heart attack.
A study out of Tilburg University in the Netherlands combined data from 20 studies on nearly 250,000 people.
Researchers found that anxiety was associated with a 26 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease. There was also a 48-percent increased risk of heart-related death during the follow-up period. This was the case even after adjusting for recognized heart disease risk factors.
A study from Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, found that anxiety disorders can predict future heart disease, even after other risk factors, such as blood pressure and smoking, are controlled.
They examined data on 50,000 Swedish men evaluated for military service between ages 18 and 20. Anxiety more than doubled the subsequent risk of developing coronary blockages or experiencing heart attack.
In another study, researchers discovered a very strong association between generalized anxiety disorder and cardiovascular events such as heart attacks, heart failure, strokes and death.
Researchers looked at patients with stable coronary heart disease.