Background: Psychological stress and anxiety have been shown to produce an activation of coagulation and fibrinolysis. Resulting hypercoagulability is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, and could therefore contribute to an increased prevalence of coronary artery disease in anxiety patients. However, hemostasis function has not yet been studied in patients with clinically relevant anxiety disorders.
Methods: A group of anxiety patients (panic disorder with agoraphobia or social phobia) and a healthy control group (each n = 29) completed some questionnaires [SCL-K9 (a short form of the SCL-90-R), State Trait Anxiety Inventory, ADS (general depression scale)], and had blood drawn after a 15-min rest period. To assess the reaction of the hemostatic system by global entities, sum scores were computed from parameters of coagulation and fibrinolysis (fibrinogen, FVII, FVIII, vWF, F1 + 2, TAT, D-dimer, alpha(2)-AP, PAP, tPA, PAI-1). Interfering variables, such as age, gender, alcohol consumption and smoking status, were controlled.
Results: Anxiety patients scored higher in a composite hemostatic score and a sum score of fibrinolysis in comparison to the control group, with a predominant activation of inhibitors in fibrinolysis. However, the psychological variable with the closest association to hemostasis was not trait anxiety, but self-perceived worry about blood drawing before blood sampling was performed.
Conclusions: The coagulation and fibrinolysis system is activated in the direction of a hypercoagulable state in patients with severe phobic anxiety, triggered by fear of blood drawing. This could be one mediating factor for the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in this population. Acute situational phobic anxiety should be monitored closely when studying the association between anxiety and hemostasis.
(c) 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.