It's a sad irony. Older women who experience panic attacks now have an additional dreadful possibility to consider: heart attacks.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital followed over 3,000 women, ages 51 to 83, over a five-year period. Those who experienced a panic attack in the six months preceding the study had a 300% higher risk of heart attack or stroke - yikes!
Researchers postulate that the panic attacks may trigger blood clots, through increased platelet production, or may lead to spasms of the arteries feeding the heart. Either occurrence would serve to increase the risk of both heart attack and stroke.
"Our results imply, however, that older women with a recent history of panic attacks represent a subgroup at elevated risk of myocardial infarction and stroke in whom careful monitoring and cardiovascular risk reduction may be particularly important," said the study's authors.
What's a woman to do?
First, take action.
Proactively seek answers. The literature suggests that treatment for panic attacks and disorders is quite effective. Professional treatment may include medications or cognitive behavior therapy. Or, on a self-help level, relaxation techniques, exercise, or practices such as Qigong or Tai Chi may be helpful.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each person has unique needs - let that be your strength. Explore the options available to you. If medications do the trick for you, terrific! If you're loath to let a synthetic agent ever pass your lips, consider the exercise, visualization or Qigong options.
Then, find others. Friends, family, online groups... Surround yourself with people who will support your quest for a panic-free, peaceful life. Resist the urge to retreat.
Finally, look to the future. Though it may be tough right now, you can do this. Start your journey toward peace today...To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about panic attacks, including symptoms, treatment options, and online support, see this from Helpguide.org.