Heart disease continues to be the number one killer of men and women. Although it primarily affects the health of your heart, a new study suggests that those suffering from heart disease can experience more anxiety and negative feelings, particularly women. The researchers found that women with heart disease generally have a poorer outlook on life compared to the general population.
Heart disease results in a blockage of blood flow to the heart, and patients are at higher risk for heart attack, other heart-related problems, and death from all causes.
Heart disease linked to anxiety and negative feelings among women
Having a negative outlook on life can further progress illness and disease, especially among those with heart disease. Therefore, the combination of negative feelings and heart disease can worsen health outcomes for patients.
Senior study author Paula Mommersteeg explained, “We were very intrigued by these sex and gender differences—we had not thought they would be so apparent.” Mommersteeg added that doctors should consider negative feelings as a potential risk factor for heart disease.
The study included over 500 heart disease patients along with a control group of 1,300 people without heart problems. The ages of the participants were 52 to 70. The participants completed questionnaires about their physical and mental health.
The study did not uncover cause and effect, but it reported that those with a heart condition had higher rates of poor health, anxiety, and negative emotions compared to those in the control group. They were also more socially inhibited. Furthermore, these effects were more prevalent among women, which signifies that special attention should be paid to women with heart disease to preserve their health.
The researchers outlined a number of different factors that could help explain the differences between men and women: societal and cultural norms, the age of the heart disease diagnosis, education level, marital status, employment history, and alcohol use.
If you do have heart disease, it’s important that you speak to your doctor about any negative feelings or anxiety you may be experiencing as this may worsen your heart health. Some helpful tips include eating well, being sociable, exercising regularly, and reducing stress as much as possible to preserve your overall health and lift your mood.