BACKGROUND: Psychological factors such as stress and depression have already been established as risk factors for cardiovascular disease. More recently, the impact of anxiety has been addressed. OBJECTIVE: To identify psychiatric disorders and assess health- and cardiac-related anxiety in coronary artery disease patients attending a supervised exercise program. METHODS: Forty-two male cardiac patients were interviewed using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) version 5.0 and instructed to complete the Anxiety Sensitivity Index, the Agoraphobic Cognitions Questionnaire, the Body Sensations Scale, and the Cardiac Anxiety Questionnaire. RESULTS: Thirty-eight percent of the participants presented with one or more psychiatric disorders (PDs) but only 19% presented with multiple PDs. Psychiatric disorders were associated with higher health- and cardiac-related anxiety scores (p < 0.05). No relationship was found between these anxiety scores and the severity of cardiovascular disease (p > 0.05). DISCUSSION: Health-related anxiety seems to be more strongly associated with the presence of psychiatric comorbidities in cardiac patients than with the severity of cardiovascular disease. Screening of all cardiac patients for past and present psychiatric symptoms should be implemented. Interventional strategies, including exercise and counseling, warrant further research.
Anxiety; psychiatric disorders; cardiac anxiety; coronary artery disease; rehabilitation