A study of 6,576 men and women participating in the Scottish Health Survey looked into the links between emotional distress, lifestyle and cardiovascular problems. At the start of the study the participants completed a 12-question survey designed to measure their general happiness, symptoms of depression or anxiety and any sleep disturbances they might have. The participants were also assessed for risk factors for heart disease and asked about their lifestyles. Their health was monitored over a 7-year period. Researchers from University College London found a significant and direct link between increasing psychological distress and an increasing risk of cardiovascular illness and death. After age and sex were taken into account people with depression and anxiety had a 50% increased risk of heart problems. However, when the researchers took people's lifestyles into account they found that smoking and physical inactivity alone explained nearly two-thirds of the increased cardiovascular risk.
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