Depression, Hypertension Linked
Those who suffer from depression and anxiety face a much greater risk of high blood pressure as they age, according to a new report. The report, in the March issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, shows the increased risk remained even when researchers took into account factors including age, gender, race, smoking and alcohol use.
Depression and anxiety increased a man's risk of high blood pressure 1.5 times, a white woman's 1.7-fold and a black woman's three-fold, the study said. Researchers followed a nationally representative sample of more than 3,300 healthy adults 25 to 64 years old who had normal blood pressure in the early 1970s, as part of the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Participants completed a series of questionnaires on their health history and psychological symptoms. They were re-interviewed four times through the early 1990s.
Precisely how negative emotions lead to hypertension remains unclear, researchers said. Some clues may be found in the nervous system response to stress among those with anxiety and depression, the researchers say. In some studies, people with anxiety have displayed exaggerated responses by the autonomic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that controls body functions not under conscious control.
The new study was initiated by the National Institute on Aging and the National Center for Health Statistics and has been developed and funded by numerous health and mental health agencies.
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