Patients with panic disorder have nearly double the risk for coronaryheart disease, and those also diagnosed with depression are at almostthree times the risk, according to new research.
The study in the current issue of Psychosomatic Medicine focuses onthe medical histories of nearly 40,000 people from the time they werefirst diagnosed as suffering from panic disorder.
Lead author Andres Gomez-Caminero, Ph.D., says the largecohort study "highlights, for the first time, the potential foradditive effects of different psychiatric conditions on cardiovascularhealth ... and it really sets the foundation for new research in thearea of cardiovascular risk estimation among patients with mentalillness."
The report focuses on medical histories from a database of 17 million patients jointly maintained by 30 managed care providers.
Panic disorder involves unexpected and repeated episodes ofintense fear accompanied by physical symptoms including chest pain,heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness or abdominaldistress. Panic disorder patients are more likely to be female,overweight, smokers and have a history of depression.
About 2.4 million Americans annually experience panic episodes,and the manifestations often mimic symptoms of a heart attack. Thedisorder can be treated by medications and psychotherapy.
Coronary heart disease is an umbrella term for processes thatreduce the arterial flow of blood to the heart. Nearly 14 millionAmericans have a history of coronary heart disease, which is theleading cause of death in the United States.
The authors of the study say the mechanism by which incidentsof panic disorder might trigger coronary heart disease is not known.However, they note that certain stress responses to depression alreadyhave been shown to increase the risk of coronary heart disease, whichreinforces the study's conclusion that the association between a panicdisorder and coronary heart disease "suggests the need forcardiologists and internists to monitor panic disorder" in the interestof cutting the risk of coronary heart disease.
Jack Gorman, M.D., a professor pf psychiatry and neuroscienceat the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, calls the study, "one more pieceof evidence that mood and anxiety disorders ... significantly increasethe risk for heart disease," adding that more work is needed "tounderstand the basic biological link between the brain and the heartthat explains these phenomena."
GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals funded the study whileGomez-Caminero was working for the firm. Gomez-Caminero is now withBristol-Myers Squibb.
Cite This Page: