- Explain to interested patients that the study supports a link between panic attacks in postmenopausal women and cardiovascular events and death but cannot show whether the link is causal.
- Consider monitoring cardiovascular risk of postmenopausal women who have had a panic attack.
BOSTON, Oct. 2 -- Panic attacks may be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular events in older women, researchers said.
Postmenopausal women who reported a panic attack were three times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke over the next five years, according to results of a cohort study reported in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. They also had nearly twice the risk of all-cause mortality than other women,
These associations remained after controlling for depression and other cardiovascular risk factors, found Jordan W. Smoller, M.D., Sc.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital here, and colleagues.
The findings suggest these women represent a group "in whom careful monitoring and cardiovascular risk reduction may be particularly important," they said.
The study also "adds panic attacks to the list of emotional states and psychiatric symptoms that have been linked to excess risk of cardiovascular disease and death in nonclinical samples," they wrote.