Posted on 08/03/2022
Sachin Agarwal, MD, MPH
Sachin Agarwal, MD, MPH

Sachin Agarwal, MD, MPH, and colleagues at Columbia University have investigated the prevalence, correlates, and health consequences of poor mental health in the increasingly sizable population of sudden cardiac arrest survivors. 

Their research has been published in Current Cardiology Reports as part of a collection on Psychological Aspects of Cardiovascular Diseases.

They found that after cardiac arrest, many survivors report high psychological distress, including depression, generalized anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Emerging evidence suggests that distressed patients’ attention may narrow such that anxious awareness of cardiac signals, e.g., changes in heart rate or blood pressure, becomes predominant and a cause for concerned, constant monitoring. 

Figure 1

This cardiac-specific anxiety followed by behavioral avoidance and physiological hyperreactivity may increase patients’ already high risk of secondary cardiovascular disease and undermine their health-related quality of life. 

Unlike other cardiovascular diseases, no clinical practice guidelines exist for assessing or treating psychological sequelae of cardiac arrest. “Future research should identify modifiable psychological targets to reduce secondary cardiovascular disease risk and improve quality of life,” said Agarwal.

SOURCE: Current Cardiology Reports