Conference Coverage

Teen affective disorders raise risk for midlife acute MI



Depression or an anxiety disorder in male adolescents was associated with a 20% increased likelihood of experiencing an acute MI in midlife in a Swedish national registry study presented at the virtual annual congress of the European Society of Cardiology.

Dr. Cecilia Bergh

Dr. Cecilia Bergh

The association was mediated in part by poor stress resilience and lack of physical fitness among these teenagers with an affective disorder, reported Cecilia Bergh, PhD, of Obrero (Sweden) University.

Her study was made possible by Sweden’s comprehensive national health care registries coupled with the Nordic nation’s compulsory conscription for military service. The mandatory conscription evaluation during the study years included a semistructured interview with a psychologist to assess stress resilience through questions about coping with everyday life, a medical history and physical examination, and a cardiovascular fitness test using a bicycle ergometer.

The study included 238,013 males born in 1952-1956. They were aged 18-19 years when they underwent their conscription examination, at which time 34,503 of them either received or already had a diagnosis of depression or anxiety. During follow-up from 1987 to 2010, a first acute MI occurred in 5,891 of the men. The risk was increased 51% among those with an earlier teen diagnosis of depression or anxiety.

In a Cox regression analysis adjusted for levels of adolescent cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure, body mass index, and systemic inflammation, as well as additional potential confounders, such as cognitive function, parental socioeconomic index, and a summary disease score, the midlife MI risk associated with adolescent depression or anxiety was attenuated, but still significant, with a 24% increase. Upon further statistical adjustment incorporating adolescent stress resilience and cardiovascular fitness, the increased risk of acute MI in midlife associated with adolescent depression or anxiety was further attenuated yet remained significant, at 18%.

Dr. Bergh shared her thoughts on preventing this increased risk of acute MI at a relatively young age: “Effective prevention might focus on behavior, lifestyle, and psychosocial stress in early life. If a healthy lifestyle is encouraged as early as possible in childhood and adolescence, it is more likely to persist into adulthood and to improve longterm health. So look for signs of stress, depression, or anxiety that is beyond normal teenager behavior and a persistent problem. Teenagers with poor well-being could benefit from additional support to encourage exercise and also to develop strategies to deal with stress.”

She reported having no financial conflicts regarding her study, conducted free of commercial support.

SOURCE: Bergh C et al. ESC 2020, Abstract 90524.

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