Patients with coronary artery disease are much more likely to experience repeated heart problems if they suffer from major anxiety or depression, the results of a new study indicate.
The Canadian study focused on patients with stable coronary artery disease. Similar studies have tended to focus on patients who have been hospitalised as a result of their condition. It found that major depression or anxiety can double these patients’ chances of repeated heart problems.
The research involved over 800 people with stable coronary artery disease. Among these, 27% had depression, while 41% showed signs of anxiety. Around 7% had a major depressive disorder, while 5% had generalised anxiety disorder.
“We found that both major depression and generalised anxiety disorder were more common in cardiac patients than in the general community. On average, cardiac patients without these disorders had about a 13% chance of a repeated cardiac event over two years, compared to 26% of those with either major depression or anxiety”, said lead researcher, Prof Nancy Frasure-Smith of McGill University in Montreal.
According to the researchers, this is the first study to demonstrate that anxiety and depression can have a strong impact on people with stable coronary artery disease.
“Now that we know that anxiety and major depression are both markers of increased cardiac risk, it is imperative that these patients receive the best treatment for both their cardiac and psychiatric symptoms”, Dr Frasure-Smith added.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, Archives of General Psychiatry.