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Health Fusion: Men who worry and their risk of heart disease

Men who worry may be at increased of getting heart disease younger. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams has details of a new study about the potential negative effects of worrying.

Men who sorry
Men who worry may develop health risks, study shows
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ROCHESTER — What triggers you to worry? Your job, money, relationships, politics, the pandemic?

The list of potential worry-inducing issues goes on. And research reveals that worry is bad for your health.

If you're a middle-aged man who worries or is often anxious, your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes may go up as you get older. That's according to research in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

“While the participants were primarily white men, our findings indicate higher levels of anxiousness or worry among men are linked to biological processes that may give rise to heart disease and metabolic conditions, and these associations may be present much earlier in life than is commonly appreciated — potentially during childhood or young adulthood,” says Lewina Lee, lead author of the study, and assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes can be lumped into a category called cardiometabolic diseases. The researchers looked at data from more than 1,500 middle-aged men to see if there was a relationship between anxiety and cardiometabolic diseases over time. Plus, the men in the study filled out questionnaires about their levels of worry and neuroticism.

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Lee defines neuroticism as a personality trait characterized by a tendency to interpret situations as threatening, stressful and/or overwhelming. And she says worry refers to our attempts at problem-solving around uncertain issues. Worry can be a good thing, but not when it interferes with daily life.

The researchers found that men with high levels of neuroticism had a greater number of high-risk cardiometabolic risk factors. And men who worried a lot had a 10% higher likelihood of having six or more cardiometabolic disease risk factors.

Might treatment for worry and anxiety help to reduce the risk factors? The researchers say they don't know that yet. But they say that men who worry should pay attention to their cardiometabolic health. By taking steps such as having regular checkups, controlling blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight, men may be able to reduce their chances of developing disease.

Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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