Researchers in Europe have said that middle-aged men who were anxious or depressed teenagers are at increased risk for heart attacks. These were some of the findings of a new study presented at a virtual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). The research work presented at the meeting was typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The study found that men diagnosed with anxiety or depression in their late teens had a 20 per cent higher risk of heart attack than those who didn’t. However, the findings only reflect an association, which was partly, but not fully, explained by poorer ability to cope with everyday stress and lower physical fitness in teens with the mental health conditions, reported the ‘Newsmax.’
Consequently, study author, Cecilia Bergh, a senior lecturer in health sciences at Orebro University in Sweden, said the take away from the research was for people to “Be vigilant and look for signs of stress, depression or anxiety that is beyond the normal teenage angst; and seek help if there seems to be a persistent problem.” Angst is a feeling of persistent worry about something trivial.
According to her, if a healthy lifestyle was encouraged as early as possible in childhood and adolescence, it was more likely to persist into adulthood and improve long-term health. Bergh said researchers already knew that men who were physically fit but stressed as teens, seemed less likely to maintain fitness.
“Our previous research has also shown that low stress resilience is also coupled with a greater tendency towards addictive behaviour, signaled by higher risks of smoking, alcohol consumption and other drug use,” she noted.
Bergh, however, said better fitness in youth was likely to protect against heart disease, particularly if people stay fit as they age, adding that exercise might also alleviate negative consequences of stress.
“This is relevant to all adolescents, but those with poorer well-being could benefit from additional support to encourage exercise and to develop strategies to deal with stress,” she said. The study involved more than 238,000 men born between 1952 and 1956, who underwent extensive exams when they were 18 or 19 years old and were followed to age 58.