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Anxiety Predicts Heart Attacks in Older Men

Even moderately elevated anxiety is associated with modest risk of myocardial infarction

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- In older men, anxiety appears to be an independent risk factor for myocardial infarction, according to research published in the Jan. 15 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Biing-Jiun Shen, Ph.D., of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed data from 735 men, mean age 60, with no history of coronary disease or diabetes at baseline. Subjects underwent a comprehensive psychosocial assessment and received medical examinations every three years.

Over an average of 12.4 years of follow-up, for each standard deviation increase in overall anxiety, the relative risk of myocardial infarction was 1.43. For increased psychasthenia (marked by excessive doubts and rumination), relative risk of myocardial infarction was 1.37; for increased social introversion, relative risk was 1.31; for phobia, relative risk was 1.36; and for manifest anxiety, relative risk was 1.42. These results were adjusted for age, fasting glucose, body mass index, blood pressure and other relevant factors.

"The findings indicate that anxiety not only represents an independent, prospective and unique risk factor for myocardial infarction, but may also explain the associations between myocardial infarction and other psychosocial risk factors observed in earlier studies," the authors write.

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