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Young men with anxiety disorders may have an increased likelihood of developing heart disease by middle-age, a new study suggests.

Young men with anxiety disorders may have an increased likelihood of developing heart disease by middle-age, a new study suggests. The study, which followed nearly 50,000 Swedish men for 37 years, found that those who were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder between the ages of 18 and 20 were more likely to develop heart disease by the end of the study. Of young men with an anxiety disorder, just under 9% were eventually hospitalized for or died of heart disease. That compared with just under 4% of those who were free of anxiety disorders in early adulthood. The relationship between anxiety and heart disease was not explained by the range of other factors the researchers were able to take into account--including blood pressure, weight and exercise habits when the study participants were young, as well as their family history of heart disease. Anxiety disorders themselves were still linked to a doubling in the risk of future heart disease.

The findings, reported in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, add to evidence tying anxiety disorders to an increased risk of heart disease. It is still unclear whether anxiety itself is to blame; there may be underlying factors that raise the risks of both anxiety disorders and heart problems. But whether anxiety is the cause or not, these and other recent findings suggest that people with the disorders should be particularly mindful about preventing or controlling major heart disease risk factors, according to Dr. Joel E. Dimsdale of the University of California, San Diego. "One implication of these studies is that patients with anxiety disorders need to take special care in avoiding risk-enhancing behaviors like smoking, and instead should be looking into risk reduction through activities like aerobic exercise," said Dimsdale, who wrote an editorial published with the study.
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Date:Jun 28, 2010
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