Tension and anxiety and the prediction of the 10-year incidence of coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, and total mortality: the Framingham Offspring Study

Psychosom Med. Sep-Oct 2005;67(5):692-6. doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000174050.87193.96.


Objective: Conflicting research findings regarding the ability of tension or anxiety to predict incident coronary heart disease (CHD) have created uncertainty in the literature. In addition, there are no prospective studies relating these characteristics to the development of atrial fibrillation (AF).

Methods: From 1984 to 1987, 3682 participants (mean age 48.5 +/- 10.1 year; 52% women) of the Framingham Offspring Study were examined and followed for 10 years for the incidence of CHD, AF, and total mortality. Measures of tension, anxiety, and risk factors for CHD and AF were collected at the baseline examination.

Results: After adjusting for age, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, current cigarette smoking, diabetes, and total cholesterol/high-density cholesterol in Cox proportional hazards models, increased tension was predictive of 10-year incidence of definite CHD (relative risk (RR) = 1.25 relative to a one SD difference; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.05-1.49) and total mortality (RR = 1.23; 95% CI, 1.06-1.42) in men. After adjusting for AF risk factors, tension also predicted AF in men (RR = 1.24; 95% CI, 1.04-1.48). Anxiety in men (RR = 1.22; 95% CI, 1.08-1.38), and in women (RR = 1.27; 95% CI, 1.05-1.55) was significantly related to total mortality.

Conclusions: Tension was observed to be an independent risk factor for incident CHD, AF, and mortality in men. Anxiety was a risk factor for total mortality in men and women. Our findings suggest that further research into the pathophysiology of the excess morbidity and mortality observed with tension and anxiety is merited.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Probability
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology