One in eight heart patients suffer post-traumatic stress disorder

June 20, 2012

One in eight people who suffer a heart attack or other acute coronary event experience clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a meta-analysis of 24 studies led by Columbia University Medical Center researchers. The study also shows that heart patients who suffer PTSD face twice the risk of having another cardiac event or of dying within one to three years, compared with those without PTSD. The findings were published today in the online edition of PLoS ONE.

"While most people think of PTSD as a disorder of and sexual assault survivors, it is also quite common among patients who have had a severe ," said lead author Donald Edmondson, PhD, assistant professor of at CUMC. "Not only are such events life-threatening, but their psychological impact can be devastating and long lasting."

PTSD is an anxiety disorder initiated by exposure to a traumatic event such as combat, disaster, or sexual assault. Common symptoms include nightmares, avoidance of reminders of the event, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

Each year, about 1.4 million people in the United States experience an (ACS), a term used to describe any condition brought about by sudden reduced blood flow to the heart. Numerous small studies have suggested that ACS-induced PTSD is common and can have serious , but its prevalence is not known.

To get a better idea of the scope of the problem, Dr. Edmondson and his colleagues performed the first combined review, or meta-analysis, of clinical studies of ACS-induced PTSD. The 24 studies in the meta-analysis included a total of 2,383 ACS patients from around the globe.

The study found that overall 12 percent, or one in eight, of the patients developed clinically significant PTSD symptoms, with four percent meeting full diagnostic criteria for the disorder.

"Given that some 1.4 million ACS patients are discharged from U.S. hospitals each year, our results suggest that 168,000 patients will develop clinically significant PTSD symptoms. That is quite substantial. However, there is abundant evidence that psychological disorders in are underrecognized and undertreated. In fact, underdiagnosis may be even more pronounced in cardiac practices than in other types of medical practices," said Dr. Edmondson.

"This is a serious problem for individual patients, as well as for the healthcare system as a whole," he said. "PTSD appears to double a heart patient's risk for a second cardiac event and for death, which adds hundreds of millions of dollars to annual health expenditures."

"Fortunately, there are good treatments for people with PTSD," Dr. Edmondson said. "But first, physicians and patients have to be aware that this is a problem. Family members can also help. We know that social support is a good protective factor against PTSD due to any type of traumatic event."

"The next step is further research to assess whether treatment can reduce ACS-induced PTSD symptoms and reduce the associated risk for ACS recurrence and mortality," said Dr. Edmondson.

Explore further: PTSD linked to increase risk in heart disease

More information: "Posttraumatic stress disorder induced by acute coronary syndrome: A meta-analytic review of prevalence and associated clinical outcomes." http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0038915

Related Stories

PTSD linked to increase risk in heart disease

June 1, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- New research by Dr. Ramin Ebrahimi and his team from the Greater Los Angeles Veterans Administration Medical Center was published in The American Journal of Cardiology and shows a link between post-traumatic ...

Cancer patients suffer PTSD years after diagnosis

October 14, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Even after surviving cancer treatment, a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology reports that many cancer patients suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, that can worsen as ...

Recommended for you

Talk to babies and let them babble back to bridge word gap

February 18, 2017

Even infants can have conversations with mom or dad. Their turn just tends to involve a smile or some gibberish instead of words. That's a key lesson from programs that are coaching parents to talk more with their babies—and ...

What the ability to 'get the gist' says about your brain

February 17, 2017

Many who have a chronic traumatic brain injury (TBI) report struggling to solve problems, understand complex information and maintain friendships, despite scoring normally on cognitive tests. New research from the Center ...

B vitamins reduce schizophrenia symptoms, study finds

February 16, 2017

A review of worldwide studies has found that add-on treatment with high-dose b-vitamins - including B6, B8 and B12 - can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatments alone.

Emotions are cognitive, not innate, researchers conclude

February 15, 2017

Emotions are not innately programmed into our brains, but, in fact, are cognitive states resulting from the gathering of information, New York University Professor Joseph LeDoux and Richard Brown, a professor at the City ...

People are found to be inefficient when searching for things

February 15, 2017

(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers at the University of Aberdeen in the U.K. has found that when people scan areas looking for something in particular, they tend to do so in a very inefficient manner. In their paper ...

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.