Health Library

Categories > Heart Health > Heart disease: Causes and risks

HealthExtra: The price of high anxiety

Everyone worries, but if you’re a full-time worrywart, the habit may be the death of you. A study of more than 500 people with coronary artery disease, reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, showed that highly anxious patients faced an increased risk of heart attack or death. During the study, participants completed annual surveys for an average of three years. Questions asked included whether they felt peaceful, felt something bad would happen, took a long time to fall asleep at night or had an upset stomach. Anxiety scores were averaged and adjusted for age, and patients were divided into three groups. Those in the group whose scores were in the highest one-third had nearly double the risk of those in the lowest one-third. Researchers noted, though, that patients who were in the highest third at the beginning of the study but were in the lowest third at the end were among the least likely to have a heart attack or to die.