Anxiety and depression plus heart disease triples the risk of dying

Anxiety or depression can negatively impact cardiac outcomes; together they pack a particularly lethal punch. According to new research from Duke University Medical Center, patients with just anxiety are twice as likely to die. When a patient is also experiencing depression, that number increases to three times as likely.

The study involved 934 patients with heart disease, with an average age of 62-years-old. The participants responded to questions to assess their levels of anxiety and depression immediately before or after a cardiac catheterization procedure to best reflect how a patient might normally manage stress.

After accounting for age and other factors influencing mortality, the authors found that 90 patients had levels of anxiety only; 65 patients only experienced depression; and 99 reported levels of both anxiety and depression. Of the 133 patients who died during the three years of follow-up, 55 had anxiety, depression or both; 93 of the deaths were heart-related.

The authors call for further research on strategies to best manage depression and anxiety among patients with heart disease. 

The findings reinforce the importance of assessing, addressing and monitoring depression and anxiety for cardiac patients.