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Keywords

anxiety, cardiac injury, heart, myocardial infarction, questionnaires

 

Authors

  1. van Beek, Maria H.C.T. MD
  2. Oude Voshaar, Richard C. MD, PhD
  3. van Deelen, Femke M. MD
  4. van Balkom, Anton J.L.M. MD, PhD
  5. Pop, Gheorghe MD, PhD
  6. Speckens, Anne E.M. MD, PhD

Abstract

Objective: General anxiety in cardiac patients is associated with worsened cardiac course. An acute coronary syndrome (ACS) might evoke specific cardiac anxiety. We explored the characteristics associated with cardiac anxiety in ACS patients.

 

Methods: We assessed cardiac anxiety in 237 patients admitted with ACS using the Cardiac Anxiety Questionnaire and gathered information on sociodemographic, psychological, and cardiac disease characteristics. Univariate, multivariate logistic, and linear regression analyses were used to determine which characteristics were associated with cardiac anxiety.

 

Results: Cardiac anxiety was not associated with sociodemographic variables. More severe cardiac injury, as indicated by ST-elevated myocardial infarction and troponin level, was associated with less cardiac anxiety. Psychological variables (depressive symptoms, agoraphobic cognitions, avoidance behavior) were associated with more cardiac anxiety.

 

Discussion: Cardiac anxiety in ACS patients is associated with more psychological distress but lower severity of cardiac injury as indicated by ST-elevated myocardial infarction and troponin level. Two explanations seem likely for this latter finding. First, anxious persons might seek help earlier, thus being diagnosed more often with minor cardiac pathology. Second, cardiac anxiety might partly be caused by diagnostic uncertainty. Future research should focus on communication strategies to reassure patients more efficiently.