Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Elevated Risk of MI Seen in Men Who Are Anxious: A 10-Year Study of 740 Initially Healthy Men Found That Anxiety Independently Predicted Chances of MI

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Elevated Risk of MI Seen in Men Who Are Anxious: A 10-Year Study of 740 Initially Healthy Men Found That Anxiety Independently Predicted Chances of MI

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- Anxiety in men may be a robust and independent predictor of the 10-year incidence of myocardial infarction, according to a study presented at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

"This is kind of exciting because most work has been done with psychosocial factors like depression and hostility," Yael E. Avivi said in an interview during the meeting.

Depression and negative affect have been the focus of most of the literature addressing a possible association between psychosocial factors and heart disease. Other researchers have reported evidence suggesting that anxiety contributes to coronary heart disease (Ann. Behav. Med. 1998;20:47-58) and to an elevated risk of fatal coronary heart disease (Circulation 1994;90:2225-9). But these investigators used relatively short assessment scales to measure anxiety, noted Ms. Avivi, a doctoral student in the department of psychology at the University of Miami.

Her associates, including lead author Biing-Jiun Shen, Ph.D., analyzed data that included a more comprehensive assessment to look for a possible association between anxiety and subsequent MI. The study assessed follow-up data for 740 healthy men who entered the Veterans Administration Normative Aging Study in 1986. Initial assessments included the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a comprehensive physical examination, and a cardiovascular disease risk profile. The participants did not have diabetes or a history of ML The mean age at study entry was 60 years.

The researchers calculated an overall anxiety factor for each participant based on a combined score from four anxiety scales used in the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. Those included measures for psychasthenia and social introversion, as well scores from the Wiggins phobia scale and the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale.

During the 10 years of follow-up, there were 60 new-onset myocardial infarctions, including two fatal heart attacks. The researchers used hierarchical logistic regression to predict the likelihood of an MI using the composite score and each of the four anxiety constructs.

"We looked at the odds ratios for predicting new MI incidence when controlling for age, education, marital status, weight, blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, drinking, smoking, and caloric intake," Ms. Avivi said. "We could control for those and still see a significant effect."

The overall anxiety factor was an independent and significant predictor of subsequent MI in the sample population (odds ratio, 1.46). Also, each of the four anxiety components independently and significantly predicted MI: psychasthenia (odds ratio, 1. …

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