There are times when I wonder how any one in this world can live without have some degree of anxiety. I know I was just a kid back, but I don’t remember the 50’s and 60’s, or for that matter the 70’s being overly stressful.

Then came the 80’s with high interest, AIDS, and a host of other social issues that seemed like they were starting to tighten the screws just a bit on our relaxed lives. It was about that time that people started working longer hours, divorce started to skyrocket, and generally the stress of everyday life started becoming, well, anxiety producing. And it hasn’t let up.

Against that backdrop comes a study that indicates that anxiety is a stand alone risk factor for heart attacks. In a nutshell, all things being equal, a man who is suffering from chronic anxiety is 30-40% more likely to have a heart attack than someone who thinks happy thoughts. And that was for men who were in the top 15% of the scales they used to measure anxiety for this study. The higher a man’s score, the higher the likelihood that it could lead to cardiac issues.

It’s important to note that in this context, anxiety isn’t about being a little anxious or nervous, but rather a true anxiety disorder that manifests itself on several deep and serious levels.

Anxiety disorders and depression are looked at by life insurance underwriters in much the same way as bipolar disorder. Remember that the criteria for finding the best rates are that a person hasn’t been hospitalized in at least the last 10 years for the disorder, they’ve never attempted suicide, aren’t on disability due to the condition, are compliant with treatment, and are stable and functional. Maybe we should add that they haven’t had a recent stress related heart attack.

Bottom line. Our bodies and physical and emotional health are all interwoven far more than we can imagine. Stress, anxiety or depression, left unchecked can ruin our lives emotionally, and now we know that it can just flat out end our lives with a heart attack.