Middle-aged men who worry and worry more may have a greater biological risk for developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes, also known as cardiometabolic disease, as they get older, published today. According to new research. Journal of the American Heart Association,
“While the participants were predominantly white men, our findings suggest that higher levels of anxiety or worry in men are associated with biological processes that can lead to heart disease and metabolic conditions, and that these associations exist much earlier in life. may be what is commonly appreciated.—potentially during childhood or young adulthood,” says Levina Lee, PhD, lead author of the study, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, and professor of posttraumatic stress disorder. said an investigator and clinical psychologist at the National Center for in the US Department of Veterans Affairs, both in Boston.
To track the relationship between anxiety and cardiometabolic disease risk factors over time, investigators analyzed data from participants in the Normative Aging Study, a longitudinal study of aging processes in men, conducted in 1961 in Boston, US. Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic was established. The study includes both veterans and non-veterans. The analysis included 1,561 men (97% White), with a mean age of 53 years in 1975. The men completed a baseline assessment of neuroticism and anxiety and did not have heart disease or cancer at the time. A personality inventory assessed neuroticism on a scale of 0–9. In addition, an anxiety assessment tool asked how often they worried about each of the 20 items, with 0 meaning never and 4 meaning all the time.
Neuroticism is a personality trait characterized by a tendency to interpret situations as threatening, stressful, and/or overwhelming. Individuals with high levels of neuroticism are prone to experiencing negative emotions—such as fear, anxiety, sadness. And anger—more intensely and more often,” Lee said. “Anxiety refers to our efforts to problem-solve around a problem whose future outcome is uncertain and potentially positive or negative. Anxiety can be adaptive, for example, when it leads us to constructive solutions. However, anxiety can also be unhealthy, especially when it becomes uncontrollable and interferes with our day-to-day functioning.”
After their baseline assessment, the men had physical exams and blood tests every 3–5 years until they either died or dropped out of the study. The research team used follow-up data until 2015. During follow-up visits, seven cardiometabolic risk factors were measured: systolic (top number) blood pressure; diastolic (lower number) blood pressure; total cholesterol; triglycerides; obesity (assessed by body mass index); fasting blood sugar level; and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), a marker of inflammation.
A risk factor for cardiometabolic disease was considered in the high-risk range if test results for the risk factor exceeded the cut-point established by national guidelines, or if the participant was taking any medications to manage that risk factor. (such as cholesterol-lowering drugs). The cut points for ESR as a risk factor are not standardized, so the participant was ranked as high-risk if they were in the top 25% tested. Each participant was assigned a risk factor count score, one score for each of the seven risk factors classified as high risk. The men were then stratified, based on whether they developed six or more high risk factors during the follow-up period.
“Having six or more high-risk cardiometabolic markers suggests that a person is likely to develop or already have developed cardiometabolic disease,” Lee said.
- Between the ages of 33 and 65, the average number of cardiometabolic high risk factors increased by about one per decade, with an average of 3.8 risk-factors by age 65, followed by a slower increase per decade after age 65 .
- At all ages, participants with higher levels of neuroticism had a higher number of high-risk cardiometabolic factors.
- After adjusting for demographic characteristics (such as income and education) and family history of heart disease, high neuroticism was associated with a 13% greater likelihood of having six or more cardiometabolic disease risk factors.
- Higher anxiety levels were associated with a 10% greater chance of having six or more cardiometabolic disease risk factors after adjusting for demographic characteristics.
“We found that the risk of cardiometabolic disease increased as men aged 30 to 80, regardless of anxiety levels, whereas men who had higher levels of anxiety and worry had higher levels of anxiety over time than those with lower levels. They were more likely to develop cardiometabolic disease with no anxiety or worry,” Lee said.
The researchers did not have data on whether the participants had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Standard evidence-based treatments for anxiety disorders include psychotherapy or medication, or a combination of both.
“While we do not know whether treating anxiety and worry can reduce one’s cardiometabolic risk, anxious and anxious individuals should pay more attention to their cardiometabolic health. For example, by doing regular health checkups and managing their cardiometabolic risk. Being active at disease risk levels (such as taking medications for high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight), they may be able to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease,” Lee said.
It is not clear to what extent the results of this analysis are generalizable to the public as all the participants in the study were male and almost all were white. Furthermore, although the participants were followed for four decades, they were middle-aged when the study began.
“It will be important for future studies to evaluate whether these associations exist in more socioeconomically distinct samples of women, people of diverse racial and ethnic groups, and to consider whether a small number of individuals have cardiometabolic effects.” How anxiety might be related to the development of risk. In our study,” Lee said.
Co-author Kevin J. Grimm, Ph.D.; Avron Spiro III, Ph.D.; and Laura D. Kubzansky, MPH, Ph.D. The authors’ disclosures are listed in the manuscript.
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Journal of the American Heart Association (2022). www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/JAHA.121.022006
Provided by American Heart Association
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