Men who tend to worry have increased risk factors for heart disease, stroke: study
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You may worry about facing an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Especially if you’re a middle-aged man, according to a new study.
According to a published study, middle-aged men who worry more or tend to feel overwhelmed, compared to those with lower levels of worry and anxiety, developed earlier in life higher risk factors for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. in the Journal of the American Heart Association Report. The findings also raise the possibility that treating anxiety disorders may reduce the risk of cardiometabolic disease.
A group of researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine carried out a study that followed men in the United States for more than 4 decades. The Boston researchers said in the study that men prone to worry and anxiety may need to monitor their risk factors for cardiometabolic disease, including maintaining a healthy weight and taking medications to control blood pressure and cholesterol.
“While the participants were predominantly white males, our results indicate that higher levels of anxiety or worry in males are linked to biological processes that may lead to heart disease and metabolic disorders,” Lewina Lee said. , Ph.D., lead author of the study. and assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, said in a press release. Lee, who is also an investigator and clinical psychologist at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Boston, added: “These associations may be present much earlier in life than is generally appreciated – potentially during childhood or youth. adulthood”.
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Researchers have tracked the relationship between anxiety and risk factors for cardiometabolic disease over a period of forty years. They analyzed data obtained from participants in the Normative Aging Study, a longitudinal study of aging processes in men, at the US Veterans Outpatient Clinic in Boston.
The researchers looked at 1,561 men (97% Caucasian), veterans and non-veterans, who had no history of cardiovascular disease or cancer at the time and who were on average 53 years old in 1975. Participants completed tests to provide baseline assessments of neuroticism and worry.
Lee explained in the statement, “Neuroticism is a personality trait characterized by a tendency to interpret situations as threatening, stressful and/or overwhelming. People with high levels of neuroticism are prone to experiencing negative emotions – such as fear, anxiety, sadness and anger. – more intensely and more frequently”.
Lee further explained in the statement, “Worry refers to our attempts to problem-solve around an issue whose future outcome is uncertain and potentially positive or negative. Worry can be adaptive, for example , when it leads us to constructive solutions. However, worry can also be unhealthy, especially when it spirals out of control and interferes with our daily functioning.”
Every three to five years, participants underwent physical exams with blood tests until they died or dropped out of the study. The research team used data collected up to 2015.
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The researchers measured seven cardiometabolic risk factors collected at follow-up visits, including systolic and diastolic blood pressure (upper number and lower number respectively), triglycerides, fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, obesity (assessed by body mass index) and erythrocytes. sedimentation rate (ESR), which is a marker of inflammation.
Each participant received a risk factor count score consisting of one point for each of seven risk factors classified as high risk.
The researchers then categorized the men by whether or not they developed six or more high-risk factors during the follow-up periods.
According to Lee, a person who has six or more high-risk cardiometabolic markers suggests that the person is very likely to develop or has already developed cardiometabolic disease.
Researchers found that participants with higher levels of neuroticism at all ages had higher numbers of high-risk cardiometabolic factors. Higher neuroticism was also associated with a 13% higher likelihood of having six or more risk factors for cardiometabolic disease, while higher levels of worry were associated with a 10% risk, according to the published report.
The study authors also said that the average number of high-risk cardiometabolic factors increased by about one per decade, between ages 33 and 65, with an average of 3.8 risk factors at age 65. This was followed by a slower increase per decade after age 65.
Lee said in the statement: “We found that the risk of cardiometabolic disease increased as men aged from their 30s to their 40s regardless of their level of anxiety, while men who had levels of Higher levels of anxiety and worry consistently had a higher likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease than those with lower levels of anxiety or worry.
The study’s lead author also said that while the researchers were unsure whether treating anxiety and worry could reduce cardiometabolic risk, they suggested that people prone to anxiety and concern should pay more attention to their cardiometabolic health.
Lee suggested these people get routine health checkups and be proactive about managing high blood pressure through medication and maintaining a healthy weight.
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The researchers noted that the study focused primarily on white men and that future studies need to assess whether these associations also exist between various ethnic and racial groups and women. The study authors noted that they did not have data indicating whether the participants had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Health experts say treatment for anxiety disorders usually includes psychotherapy or medication, or a combination of both.