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

roup. 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
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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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