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Psychological distress increases the risk of angina in men

Psychological distress in men can increase their risk of future heart attacks or angina (crushing chest pain) by 70 to 80 percent. Recent psychological distress, such as anxiety or sleep disturbance, nearly doubles their risk of angina that is not caused by coronary heart disease (CHD). These results indicate that anxiety may contribute to the development of CHD, note authors of the Whitehall II Study, who were supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS06516).

Researchers used the General Health Questionnaire-30 to examine the psychiatric health of 5,449 male British civil servants (aged 35 to 55 years) 3 times over a period of 7 years: phase 1 from 1985 to 1988; phase 2 from 1989 to 1990; and phase 3 from 1991 to 1993. CHD events were collected until the end of 1999. The researchers correlated the onset of psychological distress with CHD events such as death from CHD, heart attack, and angina.

Men suffering from psychological distress were more likely to have indications of underlying CHD. Indications of new distress at phase 3 nearly doubled the risk for future CHD events. Persistent distress during phase 3 was also significantly associated with future CHD events. The effect of distress was stronger for angina than it was for either a nonfatal heart attack or death from CHD.

See "Psychological distress as a predictor of CHD events in men: The effect of persistence and components of risk," by Amanda Nicholson, Ph.D., Rebecca Fuhrer, Ph.D., and Michael Marmot, Ph.D., in the July/August 2005 Psychosomatic Medicine 67, pp. 522-530, 2005.

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