Anxiety and cardiovascular disease

Anxiety and cardiovascular disease

Anxiety has the ability to not only affect your thoughts and emotions in a negative way, but also your physical health. For long, medical specialists have recognized a link between the presence of anxiety and cardiovascular disease and as more and more research is done on the topic the more we start to understand why suffering from anxiety can lead to an increase in cardiovascular disease.

Anxiety is accompanied with many unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects such as an increase in heart rate and an increase in blood pressure. Many of us will experience anxiety during some phase of our lives as we are all exposed to stressful situations such as losing a job or a loved one. It is however not these once off stressful experiences that are detrimental to your health, but rather the long term continuous presence of anxiety. When anxiety is left untreated it ultimately leads to a continuous elevated heart rate and a constantly high blood pressure.

High blood pressure is associated with many cardiovascular diseases including stroke, heart disease and even a heart attack. The sad news is that if your high blood pressure is caused by anxiety it can be treated effectively by treating your anxiety first.

Experiencing an increased heart rate for prolonged period of time can also lead to the development of heart disease such as cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy can further be help on by continuous high blood pressure as well as a lack of important vitamin B in the diet. It is widely accepted that stress depletes your body of your B vitamins leaving you feeling tired and now also exposed to an increase risk of heart disease.

It is always important to visit your doctor and discuss any cardiovascular related side effects with him or her first. This is especially important if you are middle aged, a smoker or have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Your doctor may perform tests to determine whether your symptoms are caused by a more serious underlying illness or by anxiety.

The good news is that anxiety can and has been treated permanently and effectively in many individuals. Even if you do some relaxation exercises to temporarily slow down your heart rate and decrease your blood pressure, these symptoms will only reoccur until you treat the real cause behind them which may be your anxiety.

Cognitive behavioral therapy has been used with great success in many individuals suffering from anxiety and its effectiveness compares well with treatment by medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches you better stress coping skills and ways of perceiving difficult events differently in order to reduce the stress caused by these events.

While you are beating anxiety, and there is no reason why you can not beat it, relaxation exercises such as progressive muscle relaxation techniques and deep abdominal breathing exercises are great ways to slow down your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. Taking a vitamin B supplement may be useful, not just to protect you against anxiety induced heart disease but also to boost your energy levels.


Hocaoglu, Cicek; Yeloglu, Cagdas H; Polat, Selim; Szirma, Agnes (Ed). “Cardiac Disease and Anxiety Disorders, Anxiety and Related Disorders” Intechopen. 2011. (November 13, 2012)

“X-Plain Managing Stress Reference Summary”. Medlineplus. 2010. (November 13, 2012)

“Cardiomyopathy Causes” Mayoclinic. 2012. (November 13, 2012)

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