By On December 11th, 2008

Panic attacks may increase the risk for heart attack and coronary disease

Panic attacks may increase the risk for heart attack and coronary disease, according to recent findings published in the European Heart Journal. According to the findings, panic attacks, or disorder, before the age of 50 were associated with a 44% higher risk of coronary heart disease and a 38% higher risk of MI. According to the researchers the link may be due to misdiagnosis of heart problems as panic in the first place; however, “clinicians should be vigilant for this possibility when diagnosing and treating people presenting with symptoms of panic,” they wrote. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study:

After adjustment for age, sex, socioeconomic factors, traditional risk factors for heart disease, and psychiatric co-morbidity, a diagnosis of panic disorder or attacks was associated with a significantly increased risk of MI in younger individuals (HR 1.38, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.79), but not those 50 or older (HR 0.92, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.03).

Young women 16 to 39 at study entry were particularly at risk, with a 3.34 times higher incidence of coronary heart disease compared with controls (95% CI 1.59 to 7.02).

A trend also appeared for greater MI risk the more panic attacks a patient had recorded in the database before age 50, but the researchers cautioned that this was based on low event numbers and wide confidence intervals.

Panic sufferers under age 50 were also at greater risk for broader coronary heart disease diagnoses, including cardiac ischemia, angina, acute coronary syndromes, MI, and coronary revascularization.

But the coronary risk associated with panic disorder and attacks was significant at all ages (HR 1.44 under 50, 95% CI 1.25 to 1.65, and HR 1.11 for 50 and over, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.20).

Again, women under 40 were most at risk, with 3.03-fold higher coronary heart disease risk than those without panic disorder or attacks (95% CI 2.15 to 4.27) and the more panic attacks over the years the more the risk tended to increase.

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today

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