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Panic Disorder Can Increase the Risk of Heart Disease
11 Jun. 2015

panic disorderA new study suggests that people who experience panic disorders are at higher risk of developing a heart disease.

Individuals with panic disorder experience sudden feelings of intense and uncontrollable fear that can be debilitating. During these attacks people can also experience breathing problems, hyperventilation, racing heart, dizziness, chest pain, cold or hot chills. In some people panic attacks occur when they experience anxiety, for others the attacks may come without warning.

Previous studies have also reported a correlation between panic attacks and heart diseases. For example, a study by Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that older women who had at least 1 panic attack were at higher risk of stroke and heart attack. But according to the latest research, the link between heart disease and panic disorder remains controversial.

Despite the data resulting from the study that individuals with panic disorders have almost a doubled risk of heart disease, the researchers claim that the symptoms of panic attacks and those of a heart attack are overlapping. Moreover, they do not rule out the possibility that symptoms of panic disorder represent a misdiagnosed heart disease.
heart attack in young woman
Researchers suggest the following possible links between the two conditions:

1.    Increased incidence of heart disease can be the result of psychological strain.
2.    Individuals with panic disorders have heart rate variability, which is known to be a risk factor for heart disease.
3.    Hyperventilation which people experience during panic attacks can trigger a coronary artery spasm, resulting in a heart attack.
4.    Increased cardiac activity and stress hormones released during panic attacks can be a predisposing factor for ventricular arrhythmia.

Moreover, stressful life often makes people adopt bad habits like smoking and poor eating, which in turn are the risk factors for heart disease. Experiencing panic disorders and being stressed itself can bring about changes to the nervous system and blood composition, which may have a negative effect on the heart health. Panic disorders trigger reduced blood flow to the heart, making your heart beating irregularly and increasing the likelihood of blood clotting.  All this is as risky to the heart health as high blood pressure and abnormal lipid levels and can trigger the development of heart disease.

Therefore researchers warn that individuals who experience panic disorders should keep a wary eye on their heart health and suggest using drugs to prevent heart attack and strokes.

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