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Anxiety Unique Risk Factor for CVD in Older Adults

Psychosom Med; ePub 2016 Apr 29; Stewart, et al

Anxiety, especially feeling anxious, is a unique risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in older adults, independent of conventional risk factors and depression, according to a recent study. Researchers examined depression and anxiety screens, and their individual items, as predictors of incident hard CVD events, myocardial infarction, and stroke for 8 years in a diverse sample of 2,041 older primary care patients initially free of CVD. Data regarding CVD events were obtained from an electronic medical record system and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services analytic files. They found:

• During follow-up, 683 (33%) experienced a CVD event.

• Cox proportional hazards models—adjusted for demographic and CVD risk factors—revealed that a positive anxiety screen, but not a positive depression screen, was associated with an increased risk of a hard CVD event in separate models, as well as when entered into the same model.

• Analyses examining individual items and secondary outcomes showed that the anxiety-CVD association was largely driven by the feeling anxious item and the myocardial infarction outcome.

Citation: Stewart JC, Hawkins MS, Khambaty T, Perkins AJ, et al. Depression and anxiety screens as predictors of 8-year incidence of myocardial infarction and stroke in primary care patients. [Published online ahead of print April 29, 2016]. Psychosom Med. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000315.