Background: Common mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are risk factors for mortality among cardiac patients, although this topic has gained little attention in individuals with hypertension. We examined the combined effects of hypertension and common mental disorder on mortality in participants with both treated and untreated hypertension.
Methods: In a representative, prospective study of 31 495 adults (aged 52.5 ± 12.5 years, 45.7% men) we measured baseline levels of common mental disorder using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) and collected data on blood pressure, history of hypertension diagnosis, and medication use. High blood pressure (systolic/diastolic >140/90 mmHg) in study members with an existing diagnosis of hypertension indicated uncontrolled hypertension and, in undiagnosed individuals, untreated hypertension.
Results: There were 3200 deaths from all causes [943 cardiovascular disease (CVD)] over 8.4 years follow-up. As expected, the risk of CVD was elevated in participants with controlled [multivariate hazard ratio = 1.63, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.26-2.12] and uncontrolled (multivariate hazard ratio = 1.57, 95% CI 1.08-2.27) hypertension compared with normotensive participants. Common mental disorder (GHQ-12 score of ≥4) was also associated with CVD death (multivariate hazard ratio = 1.60, 95% CI 1.35-1.90). The risk of CVD death was highest in participants with both diagnosed hypertension and common mental disorder, especially in study members with controlled (multivariate hazard ratio = 2.32, 95% CI 1.70-3.17) hypertension but also in uncontrolled hypertension (multivariate hazard ratio = 1.90, 95% CI 1.18-3.05). The combined effect of common mental disorder was also apparent in participants with undiagnosed (untreated) hypertension, especially for all-cause mortality.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that the association of hypertension with total and CVD mortality is stronger when combined with common mental disorder.