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Why Anxiety is linked to Cardiovascular Disease

People under distress more likely to adopt bad lifestyle habits like smoking 

Dec. 15, 2008

NEW YORK - Poorer lifestyle habits may go a long way in explaining why people with depression or anxiety face a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, a study suggests.

British researchers found that of nearly 6,600 adults they followed for seven years, those who were under significant psychological distress at the outset were more likely to suffer heart problems or a stroke by the study's end.
When the researchers looked at other factors, they found that lifestyle habits which they started because of the stress in their life, seemed to account for much of the link between distress and cardiovascular disease.
"The participants with psychological distress were more likely to smoke and drink and eat poorly and do little physical activity," lead researcher Dr. Mark Hamer told Reuters Health.
The findings, he said, suggest that doctors who are treating people for depression or anxiety should also pay attention to their lifestyle habits — and, if necessary, help them with issues like smoking cessation or starting an exercise regimen.

In contrast, biological factors such as higher blood pressure and markers of inflammation in the blood vessels accounted for only a small portion of the distress-heart link.

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SOURCE: By Amy Norton, MSNbc, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, December 16/23, 2008.
Dr. Iverson's Comment
Well of course this is nothing that we haven’t heard before…eats, drinks, smokes, and lack of activity causes heart disease and stroke—pretty well understood. What hasn’t been given emphasis before, as this study points out, is the connection between our actual satisfaction for our life and the relationship it has with our heart.
It is interesting that the heart has been chosen as the symbol of love since ancient times. It is also interesting how lack of love, or joy, can affect the physical heart. Depression, apathy, lack of luster for life can all cause physiological changes in the blood that can actually promote heart disease. Stress has been shown to elevate cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and arterial inflammation; all leading to increased risk for heart disease. Now add the likelihood of adopting poorer lifestyle habits with anxiety and depression and we have a deadly combination. 
Joy, Love, Peace…all ingredients for a Healthy Heart. ~Share it and pass it around~
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