The stress caused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks and continued anxiety about the future of our country have taken its toll on the hearts of Americans, says a new study. A three-year survey by the University of California on health and stress in 2,700 people found a much higher incidence of cardiovascular problems in adults who reported they were deeply disturbed by 9/11 and subsequent talk of the dangers of terrorism. Chronic worriers—who continued to fear terrorism for years after the attack—were the most affected, with at least three times the risk of developing heart problems by 2004. People who reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress after 9/11 were 50 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases. “When a person has a prolonged hormonal response, that can produce wear and tear on the body,” researcher Alison Holman tells Wired.com. The hormones that are activated when a person is panicked or worried, she says, have a corrosive effect on systems throughout the body. “If that continues, it can wreak havoc.”
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