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This research summary adds useful perspective to possible medical
effects of what this nonprofit Web site calls "psychological
One common wound is excessive fear or anxiety.
This brief YouTube video provides perspective on excessive or chronic fear
See my commentary
after the article. The hilights and
links below are mine. - Peter Gerlach, MSW
+ + +
Those Type A go-getters aren't the only ones stressing their hearts. Nervous
Nelsons seem to be, too. Researchers
reported Monday that chronic anxiety can significantly increase the risk of
a heart attack, at least in men. The findings add another trait
to a growing list of psychological profiles linked to heart disease,
or hostility, Type A behavior, and
"There's a connection between the
heart and head," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg of the New York University
School of Medicine, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association who
wasn't involved in the study. "This is very important research because we
really are focused very much on prescribing medicine for cholesterol and
lowering blood pressure and treating diabetes, but
we don't look at the psychological
aspect of a patient's care," she added. Doctors "need to be
aggressive about not only taking care of the traditional risk factors ...
but also really getting into their patients' heads."
The research was published Monday by the
Journal of the American College of
Cardiology. Everybody's anxious every now and then.
At issue here is not the
understandable sweaty palms before a big speech or nervousness at a party,
but longstanding anxiety — people
who are socially withdrawn, fearful, chronic
worriers. It's a glass-half-empty
University of Southern California psychologist Biing-Jiun Shen used data
from a national aging study to estimate the impact of this trait on the
heart. The Normative Aging Study has tracked 735 men since 1986. They were
heart-healthy at the study's start, have completed extensive psychological
testing, and undergo medical exams every three years.
By 2004, there had been 75 heart attacks among the participants. Shen
tracked men who scored in the top 15 percent of anxiety scales that measure
such things as excessive doubts, social insecurity, phobias and
Those men deemed chronically anxious were 30 percent to 40 percent more
to have had a heart attack than their more easygoing counterparts.
The link remained even when Shen took into account standard heart risk
factors such as cholesterol problems, as well as other heart-negative
Why? After all, a hostile person and an anxious one appear very different,
one outgoing and one timid. "Although the behavior is quite different ... if
you look at the physiological response of these people, they're quite
similar," Shen said. "All
have raised blood pressure, heart rate, they produce more stress hormones."
So, would treating anxiety lower the
risk? No one knows, cautioned NYU's Goldberg. That's why these
personality traits are considered "markers" for heart disease, not outright
"risk factors" like cholesterol or blood pressure.
two-decade experience as a trauma-recovery therapist suggests that survivors of
early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse ("trauma") often develop significant psychological
- often dubbed "personality traits."
Grown Wounded Children
(GWCs) are notably
- chronically anxious, or worried -
hitting bottom and learning to
reduce their wounds.
Lesson 1 in this non-profit Web site exists to help educate and motivate people
to reduce and prevent such wounds.
This study's results expand recent findings that type-A (highly stressed,
or "driven") people are prone to heart disease, stroke, and
perhaps premature death. Together,
these findings strengthen the likely connection
between some "personality traits" and physiological health.
The psychiatric and wholistic medical professions exist because of this
vital, poorly-understood connection.
These findings add urgency to alerting
the public - specially medical and mental-health professionals - to the
effects of the [wounds + ignorance]
that is inexorably spreading in our culture and putting millions of young
and unborn children at risk of major
and social problems.
Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get
what you needed? If so, what do you need to do next? If not - what do you need? Who's
answering these questions - your wise resident
true Self, or