Adelaide: People who suffer from panic disorder are 47% more likely to develop heart disease later in life, according to new University of Adelaide research. In research published this month in the journal Psychological Medicine, researchers reviewed 12 studies, involving more than 1 million people and approximately 58,000 coronary heart disease cases. The review found panic disorder increased the risk of heart disease by up to 47% and the risk of heart attack by 36%.
Professor Gary Wittert, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Medicine and Director of the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health,
says while this study has found a clear association between panic
disorder and coronary heart disease, the mechanisms remain uncertain.
link between panic disorders and heart disease remains controversial,
partly due to overlapping symptoms such as chest pain, heart
palpitations and shortness of breath,” says Professor Wittert, an author
on the paper.
“Furthermore, we can’t rule out the possibility
that in some people, the symptoms of a panic disorder represent a
misdiagnosed heart condition.
“From this review it is clear that
more research is needed to examine the impact of panic attacks on a
sufferer’s heart,” he says.
Professor John Beltrame, a
cardiologist from the University of Adelaide’s School of Medicine, says
people who suffer from panic attacks and anxiety should monitor their
“This new data suggesting a link between panic
disorders and coronary heart disease, underscores the importance of
these patients seeking medical attention for their chest pain symptoms
and not merely attributing them to their panic attacks,” says Professor
Beltrame, an author on the paper.
“Furthermore if cardiac
investigations reveal that the chest pain is due to an evolving heart
attack, then early treatment may be lifesaving,” he says.