Heart patients with a distressed personality reported worse health

May 8, 2012

People with a distressed (Type D) personality reported worse health than other patients after having devices implanted to ensure proper heart rhythm, according to new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

Those reporting worse health within a year of having the internal defibrillators implanted were assessed before the procedure and found to have "Type D" , meaning they tend toward increased but don't share them with others due to fear of .

In a study of 383 patients in the Netherlands, researchers also found that all defibrillator (ICD) patients whose devices shocked their hearts back into normal rhythm within a year of the procedure reported poorer . ICDs monitor and deliver electrical shocks to restore normal rhythm when life-threatening occur.

Patients who had both a and whose defibrillators delivered a shock within the first year reported the worst health of all.

"The finding is important because it demonstrates that the trauma of experiencing the lifesaving shock isn't the only factor contributing to a patient's sense of his or her well-being and identifies a group of patients who may need additional care to improve survivability," said Susanne S. Pedersen Ph.D., lead author of the study and professor of cardiac psychology at Tilburg University and at the Thoraxcenter at Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. "If we only focus on patients who have received a shock, we risk under-diagnosing patients with distress and not providing them with the additional treatment they may need."

Participants in the study (79 percent men) answered questions to assess their health status and determine if they had a Type D personality.

The personality questionnaire required a response to statements such as "I often feel unhappy" or "I am a closed kind of person." Patients rated their health on a scale from 0 to 100 the day before their defibrillator was implanted and again at three, six and 12 months later. About 24 percent of the group had a Type D personality while 14 percent had experienced a shock within the first year.

Other findings about how patients rated their health:

  • Patients who received a shock during the first year rated their physical and mental health 3 to 13 points lower than those who didn't.
  • Patients with Type D traits scored themselves 2 to 8 points lower than others.
  • Patients who had both Type D personality traits and had received a shock scored themselves up to 30 points lower than others.
Researchers did not have information about any changes in medications during the 12-month study period that may have influenced patients' health.

Pedersen said similar results would be expected among American patients but said the study should be repeated as defibrillators may be programmed more conservatively in the United States leading to differences in the number of shocks that patients may experience in Europe and in the United States.

Explore further: Wearable defibrillator can prevent death in people with arrhythmias

Related Stories

Wearable defibrillator can prevent death in people with arrhythmias

November 13, 2011
A wearable defibrillator can prevent sudden death in people with dangerous heart arrhythmias, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2011.

Heart implant patients' fears about shock leads to sexual dysfunction

November 14, 2011
Adults with congenital heart disease and implanted cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) often have a high level of fear and anxiety about the device delivering a shock during sex — resulting in sexual performance problems, ...

Recommended for you

Five vascular diseases linked to one common genetic variant

July 27, 2017
Genome-wide association studies have implicated a common genetic variant in chromosome 6p24 in coronary artery disease, as well as four other vascular diseases: migraine headache, cervical artery dissection, fibromuscular ...

Could aggressive blood pressure treatments lead to kidney damage?

July 18, 2017
Aggressive combination treatments for high blood pressure that are intended to protect the kidneys may actually be damaging the organs, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine suggests.

Quantifying effectiveness of treatment for irregular heartbeat

July 17, 2017
In a small proof-of-concept study, researchers at Johns Hopkins report a complex mathematical method to measure electrical communications within the heart can successfully predict the effectiveness of catheter ablation, the ...

Concerns over side effects of statins stopping stroke survivors taking medication

July 17, 2017
Negative media coverage of the side effects associated with taking statins, and patients' own experiences of taking the drugs, are among the reasons cited by stroke survivors and their carers for stopping taking potentially ...

Study discovers anticoagulant drugs are being prescribed against safety advice

July 17, 2017
A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham has shown that GPs are prescribing anticoagulants to patients with an irregular heartbeat against official safety advice.

Protein may protect against heart attack

July 14, 2017
DDK3 could be used as a new therapy to stop the build-up of fatty material inside the arteries

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.