Features October 2009 Issue

Understand the Link Between Anxiety and Angina

Depression is also linked to more frequent and severe bouts of chest pain.

If you have ischemia, a compromised flow of blood to the heart muscle, and you suffer from anxiety or depression, you’re much more likely to experience frequent bouts of angina (chest pain), according to a study of nearly 200 patients with established ischemia. The study, published June 29 in the online issue of Circulation, found that ischemic heart disease patients (average age 63) who suffered significant anxiety had nearly a five-fold increased risk of experiencing frequent episodes of angina, while those with depression have a more than three-fold increased risk of similar incidents. Patients with the most frequent episodes of angina were also the ones who had the greatest degrees of anxiety or depression. Researchers, however, could not say whether treating depression and anxiety could relieve angina. However, psychiatrist Leo Pozuelo, MD, FACP, associate director of the Bakken Heart-Brain Institute at Cleveland Clinic, suggests that successful treatment of patients with anxiety and/or depression could lead to heart-healthy results that could conceivably reduce the frequency or severity of the angina.

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