Anxiety After a Heart Attack

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Experiencing a life-threatening or traumatic situation is frightening and life-changing. This could be a natural disaster, a terrible accident, an attack or a serious health condition. Approximately one-third of those who suffer from a heart attack experience depression or anxiety in the following months.


    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Cardiac Emergencies


    The medical care for cardiac conditions has improved over the years. Today, there are ways to detect possible cardiac problems early. There are many different treatments that allow you to fully recover and go on to live your life. Even so, when faced a heart attack if frightening and traumatic. Suddenly you are faced with your own mortality and all of the things you didn’t accomplish in this life. According to a study completed at Columbia University Medical Center, one in eight people who had a heart attack developed symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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    The symptoms of PTSD after a heart attack include intrusive thoughts, nightmares, sleep problems and anxiety attacks. It can affect your ability to enjoy your life and function in daily life. But more than that, the researchers found that developing PTSD after a heart attack doubled your risk of dying of a second cardiac event over the next one to three years.


    Many doctors don’t equate heart conditions with PTSD and therefore aren’t aware of the signs in their patients. Because of this, the symptoms of PTSD are often overlooked and remain untreated. On the website,, it is suggested that doctors come up with a mental health plan for their cardiac patients. This plan might include psychological evaluation, counseling and medication (if needed). Using a plan would help doctors open a conversation about anxiety and depression symptoms. Included should be what to do in certain situations, such as having a checklist of heart symptoms and what to do when these occur. Support groups can also help you feel you are not alone.


    Women and Anxiety After a Heart Attack


    A new study, presented at the Acute Cardiovascular Care, 2014, discovered that women are more apt to have depression and anxiety after a heart attack than men, although the reasons for this were not clear. The study looked at 160 people who had a heart attack recently. Overall, they found that almost one-fourth of the participants had depression, although less than one-third of those had received treatment for depression or anxiety.


    The researchers pointed out that it has previously gone unnoticed that women were more likely to have either depression or anxiety after a heart attack, even though women are more likely to have poor outcomes.


    As with, the researchers suggested that doctors screen patients, particularly women, for anxiety and depression after a heart attack. Doing some could improve their chances of recovering and not suffering any further cardiac events.





Published On: October 27, 2014