A study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics addresses the potential benefits of treating anxiety in coronary artery disease.
Similar to depression, anxiety is common after acute coronary syndromes (ACS), and is an independent predictor of worse outcomes. Yet, post-ACS psychological interventions have focused on treating depression. The Authors of this study previously reported that an enhanced depression care intervention involving patient preference for problem-solving therapy (PST), antidepressant medications, or both followed by stepped care according to treatment response was effective at reducing depressive symptoms after ACS with an effect size of 0.59 SD. In this study they report the independent effect of this intervention on anxiety. Briefly, hospitalized ACS patients who were persistently depressed were recruited from 5 US hospitals between 2005 and 2008 and randomized to enhanced depression care or to usual care on a 1: 1 basis. Anxiety and depressive symptoms were assessed within 1 week of hospitalization, and at 3, 5, 7, and 9 months. Anxiety was measured using the 7-item anxiety subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-A). Depressive symptoms were assessed by the BDI. Outcome assessors were blinded to group assignment.