AUG 04, 2020 2:00 PM PDT

Does Chronic Anxiety Affect Heart Health?

WRITTEN BY: Jasper Cantrell

Anxiety is something that is talked about far more often nowadays. In recent years, it has even been linked to a variety of health problems: including diabetes, drug misuse, and cardiovascular health.

The link between anxiety and cardiovascular health can be a complex one. Anxiety causes heart palpitations, insomnia, unhealthy eating habits, and many other negative health issues. Alone, none of these symptoms can cause major harm, but they can result in the onset of various cardiovascular diseases in the long term.

A team from the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz in Germany investigated how anxiety and cardiovascular health were related in a dataset collected by the Gutenberg Health Study. They wanted to know if chronic anxiety correlated with the onset of cardiovascular disease and if any groups might be more prone to this.

Their investigation was an analysis of data from the Gutenberg Health Study to identify any significant correlations between anxiety and cardiovascular disease. An overall analysis from the study showed that anxiety was more prevalent in young women, and those with a lower economic status. Anxiety also correlated with habits such as smoking and a family history of cardiovascular disease.

The team then split the dataset by sex, and in men they saw their hypothesis held true as there was a correlation between cardiovascular disease onset and chronic anxiety. However, in women they saw something slightly different. An onset of cardiovascular disease correlated with an onset of anxiety. This observation meant that chronic anxiety did not affect the whole population in the same way and could not be used as an overall indicator of cardiovascular risk.

The team postulated that the sex-linked anxiety correlations they found could be due to the physiological differences between men and women. They did not elaborate on possible social causes due to the nature of the study itself. 

They note that the separation of data by sex may make this study more accurate compared to other studies, as many studies show conflicting evidence. Lastly, the team notes that there were limitations to their study, including possible bias due to the self-reporting nature of the Gutenberg Health Study.
The study concludes, “… we found that different forms of anxiousness, including chronic anxiousness, were not significantly related to all-cause-mortality, neither for men nor for women.”

Sources: Nature Scientific Reports, University of Ottawa Heart Institute

About the Author
  • Hey everyone! My name is Jasper and, considering I am pretty new here to Labroots, I figured I would introduce myself. I received my bachelor’s from the University of California at Riverside back in 2016. I started off my career a few years ago with a job at a University over in New York, before moving over into the industry. I'm happy to be writing content for Labroots, and I hope you enjoy it!
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