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Research links low mental health with increased heart attack, stroke risks

Depression and anxiety may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease © Shutterstock

A new research has found that symptoms of psychological distress like depression and anxiety may increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease for people over the age of 45.

Written by Sudhakar Jha |Published : August 29, 2018 10:53 AM IST

There have been multiple studies done on how your mental health affects your cardiovascular health are interrelated. In a study published in American Journal of Medicine, it was shown that depression and anxiety are not just in the mind, but they are real illnesses and can affect the entire body, including your heart.

And a new study has just confirmed it again as a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and The University of Queensland conducted a large-scale research to look at 2,21,677 participants over the age of 45.

And it was made sure that none of the participants had experienced a heart attack or stroke before the start of the study. In the study, the participants were asked to complete a 10-question survey in order for the researchers to assess their level of psychological distress. The questions included, "How often do you feel tired out for no good reason?" "How often do you feel so sad that nothing could cheer you up?" and "How often do you feel restless or fidgety?" among others.

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The researchers then went on to categorise their psychological distress on a scale of low, medium and high/very high. Following the participants for over four years, the scientists found that as the level of psychological distress increased, the risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke increased.

In men with high/very high psychological distress there was a 22 per cent increased risk of stroke, when compared to low psychological distress. and in men in the range of 45 to 79 years, the risk of heart attack shot up by 30 per cent with same conditions.

As far as women were concerned, high/very high psychological distress related a 44 per cent increased risk of stroke and 18 per cent more chances of heart attack, across age groups.

Published in American Heart Association journal, the researchers explained that the results were similar even after taking smoking, alcohol intake, and diet, and disease history into account.

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