Why Too Much Anxiety Could Lead to Blood Clot Formation

It’s pretty normal to be anxious. We often need it to give us the extra push to finish important tasks or quickly scram from potentially dangerous situations. But too much of it is not healthy, though. Some studies show that intense anxiety could make our blood become sticky.

What Does Anxiety Mean?

Basically, anxiety means having an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of certain situations or things. For instance, some people become uneasy when asked to speak in front of many people. Students, on the other hand, would dread failing exams.

So, how do you know if you’ve crossed the borderline of normal anxiety? Some symptoms of anxiety disorders, which affect roughly 40 million American adults age 18 and up (1), are:

  • Insomnia (difficulty of falling or staying asleep)
  • Panic attacks (marked by signs of breathing problems, rapid heart rate, feelings of impending doom, profuse sweating, etc.)
  • Chronic muscle tension
  • Presence of phobias
  • Persistent digestive system problems

What Does Severe Anxiety Have To Do With Blood Coagulation?

Since the ancient times, it has been known that our mind and emotions are linked to our body. Emotions, like happiness, sadness, or anger, would readily manifest themselves through physiological symptoms.

Though studies are scarce, there have been researchers, like Franziska Geiser and team, who linked mental stress and anxiety to increased coagulation of blood, thus resulting to high mortality rate among anxiety patients due to cardiovascular disease.

The Bonn-based research study enrolled 31 patients with panic disorder (agoraphobia, a severe fear of crowded place where danger is perceived by the sufferer) plus a control group in good health condition.

 Franziska Geiser says the new coagulation tendency could be the link we are looking for that explains why anxiety patients have a proven higher risk of death from heart related diseases by a factor of 3 or 4. This obviously doesn’t mean everyone with a common anxiety disorder must start to worry about having a heart attack. The coagulation values we measured were always within the physiological scale, which means there is no acute danger,” adds the project leader. The real health problem comes into play when smoking and obesity also come into the equation.

To control interfering factors in today’s world, researchers partnered anxiety patients with a healthy member of the control group, who shares the same age and gender as the former. They were given a set of questionnaires and had their blood drawn following a fifteen-minute rest. The blood samples were tested for various coagulation mechanisms.

What’s the result?

Researchers found out that the anxiety disorder group had increased coagulation system activity compared to the control group. This simply means that there’s an activation of the coagulation-fibrinolysis system, or clotting and breaking down of clots, leading to an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases. (2)

Should you suppress your fears and troubles? Well, there’s really no cause of worry—no pun intended—with this result, unless exacerbating factors (e.g. smoking and obesity) are present.

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