PTSD Unrecognized Risk Among Heart Attack Patients
Stress Disorder Increases Risk of Second Heart Attack or Death
Addressing PTSD Among Heart Patients
Edmondson, who says that the disorder is highly treatable, would like to see cardiologists screen their patients for PTSD, which he says can be done reliably and quickly with a four-item questionnaire.
"It takes next to no time," says Edmondson. "They are already screening for depression, so why not throw in these four questions?"
David Frid, MD, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic who was not involved in the research, says the study is a "nice initial look at the issue." Although more needs to be learned about the connection between PTSD and heart attack, Frid says the study has raised his awareness of the potential problem.
"If somebody is experiencing symptoms associated with PTSD, such as difficulty sleeping, problems with moving on from the event, and worrying about what happened, they should discuss it with their cardiologist or primary care provider or seek an evaluation from a mental health professional to see if PTSD is the cause," says Frid.
"Treatment for PTSD can have a positive impact, but first we have to find out why they can't get back to where they should be. Patients need to be their own advocates, but family members may need to be proactive and have a discussion with his or her health care provider."
Cardiologist Saurabh Gupta, MD, agrees.
"Based on this study, if I recognize the cues, I will be more vigilant," says Gupta, who practices at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
Gupta, who reviewed the study for WebMD, would also like to see more research before making any real changes to his practice.
"This is a hypothesis-generating study," he says.
PTSD, says Edmondson, is a quality-of-life problem. For people with ACS, though, it is also a quantity of life and hospitalization issue.
"These patients are not just unable to enjoy life, they are at risk of further hospitalizations and death," he says. "Paying attention to PTSD is a no-brainer."