Excess Anxiety Takes Toll on the Ticker

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Chronic anxiety may be bad for your heart.

A new study shows that constant worrying can significantly increase the risk of a heart attack, at least in men.

The findings add to a growing list of psychological traits linked to heart disease that already includes anger, hostility, depression and Type A behavior.

Doctors say the research is important because patients are usually treated for the physical factors leading to heart trouble, but not the psychological ones.

They say physicians need to be aggressive about "really getting into their patients' heads."

The researchers note that everybody gets anxious every now and then about things like having to give a big speech.

Where there could be a problem is being a chronic worrier, somebody who's fearful and socially withdrawn.

Still, such personality traits are considered "markers" for heart disease and not outright "risk factors" like cholesterol or blood pressure.

The study appears in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.