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Are Your Emotions Putting Your Heart At Risk?

While our focus on prevention, detection and treatment is paying off, cases of heart disease in the U.S have dropped by 20% in the past 40 years 1, heart disease is still the number one cause of death in men and women.Studies have shown that being emotionally healthy may be key in keeping your ticker ticking.

Is Your Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

In an 11-year study of 3,000 men and women exploring the risks of pessimism showed that those who were most pessimistic were twice as likely to die of heart disease as those who were least pessimistic. The researchers did not prove that negativity was the cause of the heart-related deaths, however emotions can lead to increased levels of stress and inflammation related hormones.3

Are You a Worry-Wort?

Anxiety and worry may also play a role in your heart health. A study of 7,000 Norwegians found a link between worrying about having a heart attack and actually having a heart attack. The researchers found that those with high levels of health anxiety had about a 70% increased risk of heart disease. While the study could not prove a link, the impact of anxiety on the body could be a rational cause.4

Is Depression Dragging You Down?

Along with pessimism and anxiety, there is a correlation between depression and heart disease. Researchers following 1,100 women over 10 years found that in women under 65, with no history of heart problems, a history of depression was the only significant risk factor linked to the development of heart disease. In addition to producing stress hormones, depression may also lead to unhealthy behaviors that can cause a person to be more inclined to develop heart disease.5

Are You Full of Anger?

Anger is another factor that can increase your chances of having a heart attack. In fact, a study of 12,000 people reported that the combination of intense anger and physical exertion tripled the odds of having a heart attack in those who already have artery-clogging plaques. Intense emotions may cause a rise in blood pressure and heart rate, which constricts blood vessels and causes plaques to rupture. The plaques then constrict blood flow to the heart- resulting in a heart attack.6

Speak with your health care provider to develop techniques help manage these moods and incorporate heart healthy activities into your lifestyle. Embrace National Heart Health Month by taking steps to help counter act these emotional stressors.

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  1. HealthDay: U.S. Heart Disease Rates Fell 20 Percent Since 1980s: Study. Available at: Accessed 1-3-17.
  2. HealthDay: Americans’ Cholesterol Levels Keep Falling. Available at: Accessed 1-3-17.
  3. HealthDay: Pessimism May Take Unwelcome Toll on the Heart. Available at: Accessed 1-3-17.
  4. HealthDay: Hypochondriacs May Worry Themselves Into Heart Trouble. Available at: Accessed 1-3-17.
  5. Women’s Brain Health Initiative: Depression Can Fuel Heart Disease in Midlife Women: Available at: Accessed 1-4-17.
  6. HealthDay: Anger, Heavy Exertion: Fast Track to a Heart Attack? Available at: Accessed 1-4-17.