PTSD Often Follows Heart Attacks, Study Finds
Heart attacks not only put patients at future risk for further complications, 1 in 8 patients who survive those attacks develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) according to a new research study. With 1.4 million patients being discharged from hospitals in the United States each year because of a coronary event that means up to 168,000 patients develop PTSD.
Most typically found in combat veterans and victims of violent crime, the condition is now being discovered in patients as they pay anxious attention to each heartbeat and pull of their chest muscles of their hearts.
The new report was conducted by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center who combined 24 smaller studies documenting post-traumatic stress in a total of 2,383 heart patients.
Published in the online journal PLoS the study found that PTSD was far more common in heart attack victims than originally thought. The study also found that PTSD is doubled the risk of dying from a second heart related event in the next one to three years.
According to the study issues of PTSD can lead to frequent intrusive thoughts, nightmares, sleep problems and anxiety.
Donald Edmondson, assistant professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia and the study’s lead author says of the issue at hand:
“I think that the broader cardiology community and medical community haven’t really paid attention to this issue. When you think of P.T.S.D. due to combat or a traumatic event, the patient experiences intrusive memories reliving an external event. But this type of trauma is something that is internal.”
When heart attacks are teams with depression and PTSD the results can be even more deadly as patients suffer bouts of anxiety along with a non-active lifestyle often brought on by depression.
The problem is exacerbated further by the fact that the severity of the patients first heart attack doesn’t appear to play a role in the development of P.T.S.D.
Researchers believe second heart attacks may occur more frequently because PTSD patients do not want to be reminded of their heart attack and therefore skip needed medication.
The group hopes that by exposing this issue further more patients will begin taking antidepressants and seeking therapy to lessen their PTSD symptoms following a heart attack.