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Study finds higher risk of heart attacks during presidential elections and other stressful periods



Join Fox News for exclusive access to premium content and articles with your account for free. Your genes could predispose you to a higher risk of heart attacks during times of intense stress, such as presidential elections, according to research from Massachusetts General Hospital. These conditions are worsened when paired with anxiety or depression. The study measured stress sensitivity based on genetics as a driver of acute coronary syndromes (ACS), which includes heart attacks when the heart is suddenly deprived of blood supply. The research found that people with high stress sensitivity, anxiety, or depression are at a significantly higher risk of heart attacks during stressful periods.

The study analyzed 18,428 participants from the Mass General Brigham Biobank, with 1,890 developing ACS between 2000 and 2020. Stressful periods, such as five days after presidential elections and ten days surrounding Christmas, accounted for 3.2% of the timeline observed. A total of 71 ACS cases occurred during stressful periods compared to 1,819 during control periods. People with high genetic stress sensitivity had a 36% higher risk of ACS, and those with both high genetic stress sensitivity and anxiety or depression had three times the risk.

Lead study author Shady Abohashem emphasized the importance of recognizing the impact of genetic susceptibility on heart attack risk and suggested implementing screenings into cardiovascular risk assessments. About 25% of ACS cases in the study were attributed to anxiety and depression. Abohashem recommended lifestyle modifications and stress management techniques like exercise and yoga to mitigate the effects of stress on heart health. The researchers are working on a study to explore how lifestyle changes can benefit individuals with a high genetic risk for stress.

Dr. Laxmi Mehta, an American Heart Association medical expert, highlighted the importance of the mind-heart connection and the impact of mental health on overall health, including heart health. While acknowledging the limitations of a retrospective study, Mehta underscored the need for whole-person preventative care and the significance of interventions like yoga, exercise, and mindfulness in managing stress. She encouraged healthcare providers to educate patients on the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Essential 8” for maintaining cardiovascular health, which includes steps such as eating better, staying active, and managing blood pressure.

In conclusion, the study sheds light on the relationship between genetics, mental health, and heart health, emphasizing the importance of managing stress during challenging times like presidential elections. By understanding the role of genetic susceptibility in heart attack risk, individuals can take proactive steps to protect their cardiovascular health through lifestyle changes and stress management techniques. Healthcare providers play a crucial role in educating patients on the impact of mental health on overall well-being and promoting holistic approaches to heart health maintenance.

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