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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007 Oct;64(10):1153-60.

Panic attacks and risk of incident cardiovascular events among postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Simches Research Building, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, MA 02114, USA. jsmoller@hms.harvard.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Previous studies have documented an association of depression and phobic anxiety with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, but little is known about the cardiovascular sequelae of panic anxiety.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine whether panic attacks are associated with risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in postmenopausal women.

DESIGN:

Prospective cohort survey.

SETTING:

Ten clinical centers of the 40-center Women's Health Initiative.

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 3369 community-dwelling, generally healthy postmenopausal women (aged 51-83 years) enrolled between 1997 and 2000 in the Myocardial Ischemia and Migraine Study who completed a questionnaire about occurrence of panic attacks in the previous 6 months.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Cardiovascular/cerebrovascular outcomes (fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction and stroke) and all-cause mortality were ascertained after a mean of 5.3 years of follow-up.

RESULTS:

A 6-month history of full-blown panic attacks, endorsed by 10% of postmenopausal women in this cohort, was associated with both coronary heart disease (hazard ratio, 4.20; 95% confidence interval, 1.76-9.99) and the combined end point of coronary heart disease or stroke (hazard ratio, 3.08; 95% confidence interval, 1.60-5.94) after controlling for multiple potential confounders. The hazard ratio for all-cause mortality, excluding those with a history of cardiovascular/cerebrovascular events, was 1.75 (95% confidence interval, 1.04-2.94).

CONCLUSION:

Panic attacks are relatively common among postmenopausal women and appear to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in older women.

PMID:
17909127
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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