Middle-aged adults battling anxiety or depression have a 45% risk of having a heart attack or stroke, a new study warns.

The findings, by Scottish and Australian researchers, add to a growing body of evidence of the link between mental disorders and heart disease.
For the study, the team tracked the health of 222,000 participants, who were over 45-years-old, for close to four years, the Daily Mail reported.

The results highlight the different odds of experiencing these cardiovascular conditions for women and men suffering from mental health issues.

They found women were more prone to developing cardiovascular issues due to stress. Women with high levels of distress had a 44% risk of stroke, while men had a 30% risk of having a heart attack.

The results remained the same even after taking into account eating habits, alcohol consumption and smoking.

"These factors may explain some of the observed increased risk," Dr Caroline Jackson, the study's senior author, based in Edinburgh, told the Daily Mail.

Adding,"[But] they do not appear to account for all of it, indicating other mechanisms are likely to be important."

Jackson urges people with psychological distress to seek professional help before it could potentially damage the heart.

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