Association of panic disorder and panic attacks with hypertension

Am J Med. 1999 Oct;107(4):310-6. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(99)00237-5.


Purpose: Previous studies of the association between hypertension and panic disorder were uncontrolled or involved small numbers of patients.

Patients and methods: We compared the prevalence of panic disorder and panic attacks in 351 patients with documented hypertension who were randomly selected from all hypertensive patients registered in one primary care practice with age- and gender-matched normotensive patients from the same practice and with hypertensive patients attending a hospital clinic. All three groups completed questionnaires for panic disorder based on standard criteria, as well as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale.

Results: The prevalence of current (previous 6 months) panic attacks was significantly greater in primary care patients with hypertension (17%, P <0.05) and hospital-based hypertensive patients (19%, P <0.01) than in normotensive patients (11%). Similar results were seen for lifetime panic attacks (35% versus 39% versus 22%; both P for comparisons with normotensive patients <0.001). The prevalence of panic disorder was significantly greater in primary care patients with hypertension (13%) than normotensive patients (8%, P <0.05). Anxiety scores were significantly higher in both hypertensive groups than in normotensive patients. Depression scores were significantly higher in hospital-based hypertensive patients than in the other two groups. The reported diagnosis of hypertension antedated the onset of panic attacks in a large majority of patients (P <0.01).

Conclusions: Physicians caring for patients with hypertension should be aware of the significantly greater prevalence of panic attacks in these patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Depression / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Panic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Panic Disorder / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology