Objectives: We sought to compare symptoms of depression and anxiety as predictors of incomplete recovery after a first myocardial infarction (MI).
Background: Depressive symptoms have been related to post-MI mortality and health care consumption, but little is known about the effect of anxiety. We wanted to examine the effect of emotional distress on health care consumption and whether depressive symptomatology is a better predictor of prognosis than anxiety.
Methods: Subjects were 318 men (mean age 58 years) who completed the depression, anxiety, and hostility scales from the 90-item symptom check list after they survived a first MI.
Results: After an average follow-up of 3.4 years, there were 25 cardiac events (fatal or non-fatal MI). Symptoms of both depression (hazard ratio [HR] 2.32, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.04 to 5.18; p = 0.039) and anxiety (HR 3.01, 95% CI 1.20 to 7.60; p = 0.019) were associated with cardiac events, adjusting for age, left ventricular ejection fraction, and use of antidepressants. However, a multivariate analysis including all three negative emotions indicated that symptoms of anxiety (HR 2.79, 95% CI 1.11 to 7.03; p = 0.029) explained away the relationship between depressive symptoms and cardiac events. Regarding health care consumption, anxiety (OR 2.00, 95% CI 1.24 to 3.22; p = 0.005), but not depression/hostility, was a predictor of cardiac rehospitalization and frequent visits at the cardiac outpatient clinic.
Conclusions: Symptoms of depression and anxiety were associated with cardiac events. Anxiety was an independent predictor of both cardiac events and increased health care consumption and accounted for the relationship between depressive symptoms and prognosis. Symptoms of anxiety need to be considered in the risk stratification and treatment of post-MI patients.