Getty Images / Simonabellola
Your mental and physical health are more intertwined than you think — research has shown that the health of your gut can influence your anxiety, and healthy eating and exercise can help you manage depression. More research has now found that the relationship between mental and physical health goes both ways.
New research shows that men who worry the most are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The 40-year study, which was published in the journal Journal of the American Heart Association On Monday, I used data from the Standard Aging Study, a study of aging in men founded at a Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic. More than 1,500 people, mostly white, took part in the study, which included veterans and non-veterans. At the start of the study, participants did not have heart disease or cancer, and the researchers used a personality assessment survey and anxiety assessment tool to measure neuroticism and anxiety.
Related: The health benefits of journals, according to mental health professionals
“A Neuroticism is a personality trait characterized by a tendency to interpret situations as threatening, stressful and/or overwhelming,” said Dr. Lewina Lee, lead author of the study, in an informational statement. “Individuals with high levels of neuroticism are prone to experiencing negative emotions — such as fear, anxiety, sadness, and anger — more intensely and more frequently.”
The participants also underwent physical examinations and blood tests every three to five years, which included checking for seven factors that can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease: high systolic and diastolic blood pressure, high total cholesterol, high triglycerides, obesity, and high blood sugar levels. blood during fasting. and an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), a sign of inflammation. Using national guidelines for factors at the time, participants were divided into two categories: those who became high-risk in six of the seven or more factors and those who did not. The researchers used data from 1975 through 2015.
The researchers found that, on average, participants gained a risk factor every decade from their 30s to their 60s, with an average of 3.8 risk factors by age 65. But those with high levels of neuroticism had more high risk factors at each age. After adjusting for demographic characteristics, higher neuroticism was associated with a 13% higher likelihood of having six or more cardiovascular disease risk factors, while higher levels of anxiety were associated with a 10% higher likelihood.
Related: The #1 food to eat for better heart health, according to research
The researchers did not have data on how many participants sought treatment for their anxiety problems, but other research teams have found that men are less likely than women to seek any mental health treatment.
“While we don’t know if treating anxiety and stress may reduce cardiovascular risk, anxious and anxious individuals should pay more attention to their heart health,” Lee said. “For example, by performing routine health checks and taking a proactive role in managing levels of cardiovascular disease risk (such as taking medications for high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight), they may be able to reduce the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.”
Men who are prone to anxiety or who have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder should pay extra attention to cardiovascular health factors, such as blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar levels. While this study raises the possibility that treating psychological anxiety may be beneficial for heart health, more research is needed to prove any link. In the meantime, there are several simple actions you can take to help relieve your anxiety, such as eating anti-inflammatory foods, reintroducing caffeine and getting enough sleep.