Did you know that constant anxiety – whether it’s about your job, your relationships or your finances could kill you? A new study found a link between General Anxiety Disorder, known as GAD, and an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and death. It’s a problem faced by more than seven million people in North America.
According to ABC News, there’s a difference between occasionally worrying about things and obsessively worrying. Experts say that people who suffer from GAD have a hard time focusing for long periods of time. That’s because their minds are addicted to worrying, and the knowledge that worrying is unhealthy is causing them to worry even more! Dr. Philip Ragno is a director at Winthrop University Hospital. He says this study is a huge wake up call to the medical community, because anxiety is often brushed aside as a “fake” disorder or nothing to be concerned about. Now research proves that anxiety can be fatal - so doctors should take time to check patients for anxiety, just as they’d check for other diseases. Chronic stress from constant worry also triggers a flood of hormones that can cause your heart to beat faster and pump harder, which leads to higher blood pressure, more wear and tear on cardiac blood vessels, and raises your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
To protect yourself from what can be an extremely scary and painful stress response, you need to take steps to reduce your anxiety before it gets out of hand. Dr. Ragno recommends trying a breathing technique the next time you feel panicky. Simply inhale through your nose for a few seconds, and then exhale through your mouth until you empty the air out of your lungs. Repeat that until you calm down. It sounds ridiculously simple, but controlled deep breathing can reduce your heart rate and the production of stress hormones drastically. More extreme cases may need medication, but if you have even the slightest suspicion that you’re having a heart attack - call 911.