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People with panic disorders are at a higher risk for heart attacks and heart disease

Posted on 07-02-15 in Anxiety, Stress

People with panic disorders are at a higher risk for heart attacks and heart disease

A new study published in the journal Psychological Medicine suggests that people who suffer from a panic disorders are significantly more likely to suffer from heart attacks and heart disease in their later years.

Panic disorders cause people to experience sudden feelings of uncontrollable fear and anxiety so severe they can be debilitating. For some people these attacks can occur if they experience anxiety triggers while, for others, these attacks may come without warning.  These are referred to as panic attacks. During these episodes, patients can suffer from profuse sweating, loss of bodily control, heart palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation, trembling and stomach pain.

The panic disorder study was conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide’s School of Medicine in Australia. Professor Gary Wittert and his colleagues conducted an analysis of 12 studies consisting of over 1 million people with 58,111 of them having coronary heart disease. Those with a panic disorder were found to have a 36 percent higher risk of heart attack and a 47 percent higher risk of heart disease when compared to those who did not have the condition.

The researchers said that their data has revealed a definite link between panic disorders and heart disease, however, the the exact explanation for the link remains questionable. The mechanism by which these two conditions connect is still unclear. Professor Wittert said, “The link between panic disorders and heart disease remains controversial, partly due to overlapping symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations and shortness of breath.” Researchers note that this study depicts the importance for patients with panic disorders to be conscious and pay attention to the condition of their heart health.

Past studies have shown results that suggest there is a link between panic attacks and cardiovascular problems. A study conducted in 2007 by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that women who experienced a minimum of one panic attack in their lives had an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

Professor John Beltrame, a senior study author, added, “This new data suggesting a link between panic disorders and coronary heart disease, underscores the importance of these patients seeking medical attention for their chest pain symptoms and not merely attributing them to their panic attacks. Furthermore, if cardiac investigations reveal that the chest pain is due to an evolving heart attack, then early treatment may be lifesaving.”

Approximately six million adults are affected by panic disorders in the U.S. alone. Sovereign Health Group is among the national leaders in providing mental health treatment for those suffering from conditions like panic disorder. We offer various inpatient and outpatient treatment programs across the country for patients who suffer from mental illness, drug addiction and dual diagnosis. If you know someone who’s struggling with a mental illness and is in need of mental health treatment, please do not hesitate to call. You may reach us at 888-530-4614. Our admissions helpline is open 24/7 and our treatment specialist will assist you in finding the right treatment option for you.

Written by Benjamin Creekmore, Sovereign Health Group writer