All Terror, All the Time Is Giving Americans Heart Failure

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A new UC Irvine study suggests that the Bush Administration’s attempts to intensify fears of terrorism for political gain have significantly contributed to Americans’ heart problems.

Researchers showed that stress responses to the 9/11 attacks—particularly those that persisted for years afterward—were linked to a 53 percent increase in cardiac ailments. The most common triggers of renewed stress were videos of the attacks in the media (thanks, Rudy!) and—you guessed it—the rise and fall of DHS’ terror alert levels. All that politically opportunistic drum-beating has actually made us sick. Perhaps if Americans had universal health insurance, the government would think twice about such callous manipulation.

One of the Irvine study’s findings seems to provide more general insight about violence. The study was able to document post-traumatic responses among Americans who merely saw the attacks on TV. If, as the finding suggests, seeing violence happen to others with whom we identify can spur emotional distress and ill-health, that says a lot about what it’s like to be black, or a woman, or a soldier in Iraq, doesn’t it?

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