Two new worries for heart patients
New research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association this week, reports that heart patients who also have anxiety are twice as likely to die as those who don’t have anxiety. Additionally, patients have both anxiety and depression have triple the risk of dying.
Researchers say that depression is common among those who suffer a heart attack and having anxiety compounds the problem.
“Many studies have linked depression to an increased risk of death in heart disease patients,” said study leader, Lana Watkins, associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.,” in a statement. “However, anxiety hasn’t received as much attention.”
The study looked at responses from over 900 patients with heart disease in a survey that gauged anxiety levels and depression just before or after a cardiac catheterization procedure. Researchers chose that time because it best reflected how the patients handled stressful situations.
Results showed that 90 patients had anxiety, 65 patients reported depression and 99 said they experienced both anxiety and depression.
After a three year follow-up, 133 patients had died, among those, 55 had either depression, anxiety or both.
Watkins said that anxiety and depression have different effects on the body and increase the chance of death in their own way.
“People who worry a lot are more likely to have difficulty sleeping and to develop high blood pressure,” Watkins said. “Depression results in lack of adherence to medical advice and treatments, along with behaviors like smoking and being sedentary.”
The fact that anxiety is considered such a threat to heart patients, researchers say it’s time for a closer look at those connections.
“It’s now time for anxiety to be considered as important as depression, and for it to be examined carefully,” Watkins said.
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