Long term exposure to the threat of terrorism can elevate people's resting heart rates and increase their risk of dying, according to analysts at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Israel has been subjected to the repeated stress of multiple wars and terror attacks over the past 60 years which has had a major impact on the entire society. 17,000 healthy Israelis were part of the study and were examined for factors affecting their basal (resting) heart rates. Researchers also studied how these rates changed over the years 2002 to 2013 during annual checkups of healthy Israeli study subjects.
By combining the medical examination data and the response got through the questionnaire, the researchers found that basal heart rate was affected by physiological characteristics, such as physical fitness level and inflammation index reflecting the activity of the immune system; and by psychological characteristics such as fear of terrorism. Through a statistical analysis of 325 different parameters, researchers found that fear of terrorism was a major contributor to increase in resting heart rate, with 4.1 percent of the participants suffering from an elevated fear of terror that predicted an increase in their resting heart rates. With 60 heartbeats per minute considered to be normal, an increase of up to 70-80 heart beats per minute was observed in subjects who exhibited an increased fear of terrorism
Thus, in people with an elevated fear of terror, the heart beats faster and therefore the associated risk of heart disease is higher.