News | May 15, 2007

Study: Heart Attack, Death Risk Double with Intense Anxiety

May 16, 2007 — Extremely anxious patients with heart disease have been found to be at double the risk of heart attack or death when compared to those with a more relaxed life attitude, reports ANI.

In new research patients whose anguish strengthened over time were in greatest danger, while those who initially had high anxiety levels but later found inner calm noticeably reduced their risk. The research is published the May 22, 2007 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC).

"Most patients come in very anxious about their coronary condition. I'm convinced that spending time with the patient and the family and interacting with them as a caring human being is critically important to clinical outcomes," said Charles M. Blatt, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of research at the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation and a clinical professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston.

For the study, ANI reported, Dr. Blatt and his colleagues recruited 516 patients with confirmed coronary artery disease. At the commencement of the study and again each year patients completed a uniform questionnaire about their feelings during the previous week, for example, whether they felt calm, felt something bad would happen, took a long time to fall asleep at night, or had upset bowels or stomach.

"This study provides further insight into the complex connections between the brain and heart,” said James L. Januzzi, M.D., F.A.C.C. and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of the cardiac intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. “Appropriately, cardiologists have traditionally focused their therapeutic efforts on factors known to influence long-term outcome in coronary disease, such as making sure to aggressively lower LDL cholesterol. The results of this study demonstrate that we may need to consider more thoroughly evaluating patients with mood disorders such as anxiety, as treatment may very well reduce the risk of heart disease."

For more information visit www.acc.org.

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