Objectives: The objectives of this study were to investigate the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder in patients with a first myocardial infarction compared with a random sample of healthy controls and to determine variables associated with the disorder.
Design: A questionnaire was distributed to 112 consecutive patients 4 to 6 weeks after infarction and to 115 healthy controls selected randomly from the general population. Objective clinical measures were obtained from the patients' medical records.
Results: Twenty-five (22%) patients qualified for a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared with 8 (7%) controls with patients being more than a three-fold (OR: 3.84; 95% CI: 1.65 to 8.94) risk of having the disorder. When adjusting for other variables, the risk was reduced to above a two-fold risk (OR: 2.71; 95% CI: 0.99-7.41). In patients and controls, depression and neuroticism were associated with a diagnosis of PTSD adjusting for other variables. In patients, anxiety was associated with a diagnosis of PTSD adjusting for other variables. Left ventricular ejection fraction and symptoms of angina pectoris were not related to a diagnosis of PTSD in the patient group.
Conclusions: Given that previous research has shown that persons with PTSD are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, cardiac patients with the disorder may be at a higher risk of recurrent cardiac events. Although longitudinal studies are needed to confirm such a relationship, this disorder should not be overlooked because of its potential role in reinfarctions and mortality.