Association of anxiety disorders and depression with incident heart failure

Lauren D. Garfield, Jeffrey F. Scherrer, Paul J. Hauptman, Kenneth E. Freedland, Tim Chrusciel, Sumitra Balasubramanian, Robert M. Carney, John W. Newcomer, Richard Owen, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Patrick J. Lustman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Objective: Depression has been associated with increased risk of heart failure (HF). Because anxiety is highly comorbid with depression, we sought to establish if anxiety, depression, or their co-occurrence is associated with incident HF. METHODS: A retrospective cohort (N = 236,079) including Veteran's Administration patients (age, 50-80 years) free of cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline was followed up between 2001 and 2007. Cox proportional hazards models were computed to estimate the association between anxiety disorders alone, major depressive disorder (MDD) alone, and the combination of anxiety and MDD, with incident HF before and after adjusting for sociodemographics, CVD risk factors (Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, obesity), nicotine dependence/personal history of tobacco use, substance use disorders (alcohol and illicit drug abuse/dependence), and psychotropic medication. RESULTS: Compared with unaffected patients, those with anxiety only, MDD only, and both disorders were at increased risk for incident HF in age-adjusted models (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.19 [ 95% confidence interval {CI} = 1.10-1.28], HR = 1.21 [95% CI = 1.13-1.28], and HR = 1.24 [95% CI = 1.17-1.32], respectively). After controlling for psychotropics in a full model, the association between anxiety only, MDD only, and both disorders and incident HF increased (HRs = 1.46, 1.56, and 1.74, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Anxiety disorders, MDD, and co-occurring anxiety and MDD are associated with incident HF in this large cohort of Veteran's Administration patients free of CVD at baseline. This risk of HF is greater after accounting for protective effects of psychotropic medications. Prospective studies are needed to clarify the role of depression and anxiety and their pharmacological treatment in the etiology of HF.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-136
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2014


  • administrative data
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • heart failure
  • medical records
  • psychotropic medication
  • veteran


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