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Fear that freezes the blood in your veins
Date:3/25/2008

This release is available in German.

"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.

The medical researchers in Bonn compared patients who suffer from a severe form of panic disorder or a social phobia with a healthy control g
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Contact: Dr. Franziska Geiser
franziska.geiser@ukb.uni-bonn.de
49-228-287-16299
University of Bonn
Source:Eurekalert

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