As men age, their risk of heart attack rises, especially if they are prone to anxiety. In a 12-year study, anxiety was found to increase the risk of heart attack by 30% to 40% in men who are anxious when compared to men who are calmer, irrespective of other personality and risk factors. In this study, 75 men, with the average age of 60-years-old, and who did not have any history of coronary disease or diabetes, were recruited.
The researchers conducted a survey of participants’ personality, including anxiety, anger, depression, hostility, and other negative emotions. They also collected blood samples and details of their alcohol and cigarette use, and measured blood pressure.
After 12 years of study, 75 heart attacks were reported, out of which 11 were fatal. The results showed that participants who had high scores for anxiety in the personality tests were more likely to have heart attacks, regardless of other risk factors like the age, levels of cholesterol, education, and body mass index.
“Anxiety was found to be a strong and independent risk factor for heart attacks,” reports Biing-Jiun Shen, PhD, of the psychology department at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. But researchers are not sure whether the same is applicable for women. More studies are needed to understand the link between anxiety and heart attack in men.