Panic disorder, heart attacks linked

December 12th, 2008 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 12 (IANS) People diagnosed with panic attacks have a greater risk of suffering a heart attack than the normal population, says a study. The research found that people who were younger than 50 when first diagnosed had a significantly higher risk of subsequent heart attacks or myocardial infarctions (MI), but this was not the case in older people.

Said Kate Walters, senior lecturer in primary care at University College London, who led the research: “Not much is known about the relationship between panic disorder and cardiac disease.

“The symptoms of panic attacks can closely mimic those of a heart attack or acute cardiac disease, and it seems that there may be a complex relationship between them.

“Our findings have significant implications for clinicians. Panic attacks were associated with a significant increased risk of a subsequent diagnosis of CHD (coronary heart disease) and acute MI in those aged younger than 50.”

“This may be due to initial misdiagnosis of CHD as panic attacks, or a true underlying increased risk of CHD with panic attacks. Clinicians should be vigilant for this possibility when diagnosing and treating people presenting with symptoms of panic,” she informed.

It also found there was a significantly higher incidence of subsequent coronary heart disease (CHD) in people diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder at all ages, but this was more marked in the under 50s, according to a University College release.

The study is the first to look at a very large sample of the British population of all ages (a total of 404,654 people) selected from a primary care population that can be broadly generalised to other countries with a similar socio-demographic structure.

It is also the first to identify that the higher risk of heart attacks with panic attacks/disorder is mainly in younger people (aged under 50 years), and that having a panic attacks/disorder diagnosis is associated with a lower risk of dying from heart conditions.

Walters and her colleagues looked at primary care medical records for 57,615 adults diagnosed with panic attacks/disorder and 347,039 adults who did not have the condition.

They found that those aged under 50 were more than a third as likely to have a heart attack and nearly half as likely to develop heart disease subsequently than people who had not been diagnosed with the condition.

These findings were published in European Heart Journal Thursday.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |