ABSTRACT: Several studies outlined the role of stressful life events in the pathogenesis of coronary heart disease. It has recently been emphasized the role of depression, both clinical and subclinical, in the course of myocardial infarction. The relationship between recent life events, major depression, depressive symptomatology and onset of acute coronary heart disease has been less considered.
Ninety-seven consecutive patients with first episode of coronary heart disease and 97 healthy subjects matched for sociodemographic variables were included. All patients were interviewed by Paykel's interview for recent life events, a semistructured interview for determining the psychiatric diagnosis of mood disorders, a semistructured interview for demoralization. Patients were assessed while on remission from the acute phase. The time period considered was the year preceding the first episode of coronary heart disease, and the year before interview for controls.
Patients with acute coronary heart disease reported significantly more life events than control subjects (p < 0.001). All categories of events (except entrance events) were significantly more frequent. Thirty percent of patients were identified as suffering from a major depressive disorder; 9% of patients were suffering from minor depression, and 20% from demoralization. Even though there was an overlap between major depression and demoralization (12%), 17% of patients with major depression were not classified as demoralized and 7 % of patients with demoralization did not satisfy the criteria for major depression. Independently of mood disorders, patients have a higher (p < 0.001) mean number of life events than controls. With regard to life events, the same significant difference (p < 0.001) compared to controls applied to patients with and without mood disorders.
Our findings emphasize the relationship between life events and acute coronary heart disease. These data, together with those regarding traditional cardiac risk factors, may have clinical and prognostic implications to be verified in longitudinal studies.
Italian heart journal. Supplement: official journal of the Italian Federation of Cardiology 02/2005; 6(2):105-10.