According to a study presented today at ESC Acute CardioVascular Care 2023, the scientific meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, more than 40% of women report anxiety four months after a heart attack, compared to 23% of men (ESC).
“Cardiac arrest occurs with little or no warning and it is normal to feel anxious and depressed afterwards,” says study author Dr Jesper Kjaergaard from Rigshospitalet – Copenhagen University Hospital, Denmark, “After the initial shock and confusion, patients and their families. Cause of cardiac arrest A sudden change in their lifestyle is accompanied by a diagnosis of a condition that requires medical investigations and in some cases treatment to determine. This can add stress and anxiety. Our study indicates that women are more psychologically affected. May be targeted for additional support.” (Also read: Heart Health Tips: Can You Prevent a Sudden Heart Attack? Here’s what you need to know )
Cardiac arrest accounts for one in five deaths in industrialized countries. 2 The heart unexpectedly stops pumping blood around the body and if flow is not quickly restored, the person dies and dies within 10 to 20 minutes. Fewer than 10% of people with cardiac arrest in the community survive to hospital discharge.3,4
Anxiety and depression are frequent after critical illness and are associated with reduced quality of life in patients and relatives. 6 This study assessed the prevalence of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in heart attack survivors and examined whether symptom severity differed between men and women.
Between 2016 and 2021, the study enrolled 245 patients who had heart attacks in the community and were hospitalized in coma. About 18% of the participants were female. Psychiatric symptoms were assessed during a four-month follow-up appointment. Anxiety and depression were measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Patients gave a score of 0 to 3 on how often or strongly they experienced 14 items such as “I have a sudden feeling of panic”, for a total of 0 to 21 for anxiety and 0 to 21 for depression. A score between 8 and 10 indicates borderline anxiety or depression while 11 or higher indicates anxiety or depression. Symptoms of PTSD were assessed using the PCL-5 checklist. 7 Respondents rated 20 symptoms on a scale from 0 (“not at all”) to 4 (“extremely”) for a total score of 0 to 80, with 31 to 33 indicating possible PTSD.
The mean HADS score was 2.7 for depression and 4.8 for anxiety. Depression and anxiety scores were significantly higher in women (3.3 and 6.1, respectively), than in men (2.6 and 4.5, respectively). 43% of women and 23% of men had an anxiety score of 8 or higher. Looking at the anxiety results in more detail, 23% of women scored 8 to 10 compared to 11% of men, while 20% of women scored 11 or higher compared to 12% of men. Women had higher levels of PTSD than men (mean score 33 vs. 26, respectively). In both men and women, anxiety was significantly associated with PTSD symptoms.
Dr. Kjergaard said: “The findings that the psychological impact of a heart attack lasts for months confirm our experience in clinical practice. Anxiety was frequent, especially among women. Our results highlight the need for long-term follow-up of heart attack survivors to identify and treat mental health problems. Patients should be encouraged to tell their health care professional about anxiety, depression, and stress related to heart failure. Future studies are needed to investigate whether talking to a professional can help reduce psychological symptoms.
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