General Anxiety Linked to Heart Attack Risk. (Independent of Depression)

By Sherman, Carl | Clinical Psychiatry News, May 2002 | Go to article overview

General Anxiety Linked to Heart Attack Risk. (Independent of Depression)


Sherman, Carl, Clinical Psychiatry News


BARCELONA, SPAIN -- The general trait of anxiety appears linked to an increased incidence of coronary heart disease, particularly nonfatal myocardial infarction, in elderly men, Dr. Sabrina Paterniti said at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

The effect of anxiety on heart disease risk was independent of depressive symptoms in a 7-year prospective study reported by Dr. Paterniti of INSERM (the French Institute of Health and Medical Research) in Paris.

Earlier research has shown an association between anxiety and the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), but the strongest evidence involves phobic anxiety and sudden death; only one study has linked generalized anxiety and myocardial infarction.

For the most part, the earlier work did not take into account the possibly confounding effect of depressive symptoms, which often are associated with anxiety.

The current study involved 514 men without diagnosed heart disease or psychiatric disorders, aged 60-70 years, who were evaluated with the Spielberger Inventory to assess stable aspects of anxiety and followed for 7 years. Cardiac events during this period were validated on the basis of medical reports. Eighty-eight percent of the men were followed for the full study period, Dr. Paterniti said.

The men were categorized as "anxious" and "nonanxious," based on whether the average of their Spielberger scores at baseline and 2-year follow-up valuation were above or below the median. …

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