Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Fear that freezes the blood in your veins

26.03.2008
If you are "frightened stiff", not only does the intense fear seem to paralyse the body, it may even retard the blood flow. A study by medical scientists at the University of Bonn has shown that people with an acute anxiety disorder tend to suffer from higher levels of blood clotting than the psychologically healthy population. This finding may explain why patients with anxiety problems are at greater risk of dying from heart disease – by a factor of one to four times.

"The blood froze in my veins" or "My blood curdled" – these common figures of speech can be taken literally, according to the latest studies. Indeed, more literally than some of us would like. For it turns out that intense fear and panic attacks can really make our blood clot and increase the risk of thrombosis or heart attack.

Earlier studies showed that stress and anxiety can influence coagulation. However, they were based almost entirely on questionnaire surveys of healthy subjects. In contrast, the Bonn-based research team around Franziska Geiser (from the Clinic and Policlinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy) and Ursula Harbrecht (from the Institute of Experimental Haematology and Transfusion Medicine) have been the first to conduct a very careful examination of coagulation in patients with anxiety disorders.

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time – fear of failing the math's test, dread of going down into the dark cellar or, in a more general sense, trepidation about what the future holds. But some people are gripped by powerful fears when confronted by quite normal everyday situations. For example, sufferers of agoraphobia frequently have panic attacks when caught up in a crowd. The symptoms can be dramatic: palpitations, sweating, shaking, blind panic or fainting – even leading to death. Another anxiety disorder frequently encountered can be described as social phobia. Those affected fear above all situations in which they become the centre of attention in a group. They begin to stutter or turn red. In order not to avoid embarrassment, social phobia sufferers may become recluses, shying away from human contact and staying at home.

... more about:
»Geiser »Heart »anxiety »coagulation »disorder »fear

The medical researchers in Bonn compared patients who suffer from a severe form of panic disorder or a social phobia with a healthy control group. In order to rule out as far as possible the influence of factors like age and sex, each of the 31 patients with anxiety disorders was matched with a corresponding healthy patient of the same age and sex. The subjects first had to give blood samples and were asked to perform a number of tests on the computer. A second blood sample was then taken. The blood analysis, which measured various coagulation factors, produced a clear result: The group of anxiety patients showed a much more highly activated coagulation system than the healthy control group.

In the coagulation system two mechanisms operate that are indispensable to life and normally work in opposite directions, each counterbalancing the other. On the one hand, coagulation involves a thickening of the blood so that a plug can form and prevent excessive bleeding from damaged vessels. On the other hand, there is "fibrinolysis", a process that keeps the blood fluid and breaks down clots. In the case of the anxiety-disorder patients, however, the researchers observed through close analysis of the blood an activation of coagulation accompanied by an inhibition of fibrinolysis. Yet, apart from the prick for blood sampling, no real injury had occurred. For these types of patients, the coagulation system goes out of balance as the coagulation tendency rises – possibly with dangerous consequences. In extreme cases the imbalance can lead to blockage of a coronary artery.

The increased coagulation tendency could, says Franziska Geiser, be the "missing link" that explains why anxiety patients have a statistically higher risk of dying from heart disease by a factor of 3 or 4. "Of course, this doesn't mean that every patient with a marked anxiety disorder must now 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. A real health threat only arises when other risk factors, like smoking and obesity, also come into the equation.

Franziska Geiser also has some good news for people with anxiety disorders. A follow-up study has produced the first evidence that coagulation activation subsides in patients who have completed successful therapy for their condition. In this respect, Dr. Geiser calls for earlier diagnosis of anxiety disorders, pointing out that too much time is wasted before effective psychotherapy is prescribed. "After all, we have programmes to help the population give up smoking or take more exercise. But if we want to reduce the number of heart disorders, it would make sense to improve the way anxiety disorders are diagnosed and treated."

Dr. Franziska Geiser | alfa
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

Further reports about: Geiser Heart anxiety coagulation disorder fear

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>