People with mild heart disease are more likely to say they have poorer health, anxiety and a negative outlook than people in the general population, a new study suggests.
These problems are more common among female patients than male patients, the research found.
In mild heart disease, there is partial blockage of blood flow to the heart. People with the condition are more at risk of heart attacks, other serious heart problems, and death from any cause.
The perception of overall physical and mental health, as well as personality, can have an impact on health outcomes, study senior author Paula Mommersteeg suggested.
The study was published Feb. 21 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
“We were very intrigued by these sex and gender differences — we had not thought they would be so apparent,” Mommersteeg said in a journal news release. She is an assistant professor of medical and clinical psychology at Tilburg University in the Netherlands.
Mommersteeg added that because of this, doctors should consider factors such as a negative attitude as a potential heart disease risk factor.
The new study included more than 500 people with mild heart disease. There was also a control group of more than 1,300 people without heart trouble. The study volunteers were all between ages 52 and 70. The researchers asked them to complete questionnaires about their physical and mental health.
Although the study couldn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, the research found that people with heart trouble reported significantly higher rates of poor health, anxiety and negative emotions combined with social inhibition compared to people in the control group.
Female patients reported higher rates of health problems and anxiety than male patients.
The researchers said there were a number of factors that might explain the gender differences. These include societal and cultural norms, age when diagnosed, education level, marital status, employment history and alcohol use.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more on coronary artery disease.