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Anxiety Strong CHD Risk Predictor

Don’t worry; be happy and live longer—could very well be a scientific evidence-based advice. Two new studies firmly establish anxiety as an independent predictor for subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD) years later.

Doctors are advised to also ask patients about their feelings and emotional concerns, and if there is any undue indication of anxiety that could also impact the cardiovascular prognosis of the patient.

Dr Annelieke Roest from the Tilburg University, the Netherlands, and colleagues are the authors of this first-ever pooled analysis (meta-analysis) on the association of anxiety with the incidence of CHD in initially healthy people, using data from the United States, Europe, and Asia. The authors reported that even after adjustment for other risk factors, anxious people had around a 25 percent greater risk of CHD and an almost 50 percent higher risk of cardiac death over a mean follow-up period of 11.2 years.

In another study, almost 50,000 Swedish men who were medically examined for military service and followed for an average of 37 years were assessed by Dr lnnre Janszky and her coinvestigators from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. They showed that depression was not a predictor for subsequent coronary disease, but those with anxiety disorders—as diagnosed by a psychiatrist—had doubled risk of suffering from CHD or acute myocardial infarction (AMI) , even after adjustment for baseline confounders.

In an accompanying JACC editorial by psychiatrist Dr Joel Dimsdale from the University of California, San Diego, he said, it is “odd that anxiety symptoms can be such a strong beacon, lighting the way to future coronary disease decades in advance.” Cardiologists may be able to detect a lot of CHD patients in advance by including a history of anxiety in the remote or recent past when he takes the history of patients particularly among diabetics who are already considered high-risk for heart disease by virtue of their being diabetic.

Hence, diabetes is already called a CHD equivalent and with another risk factor such as anxiety and excessive stress, the risk can increase further.

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