Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Emotional triggering and low socio-economic status as determinants of depression following acute coronary syndrome

A. Steptoea1 c1, G. J. Molloya2, N. Messerly-Bürgya3, A. Wikmana1, G. Randalla1, L. Perkins-Porrasa4 and J. C. Kaskia5

a1 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK

a2 Department of Psychology, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK

a3 Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

a4 Division of Community Health Sciences, St. George's, University of London, London, UK

a5 Division of Cardiac and Vascular Sciences, St. George's, University of London, London, UK

Abstract

Background The determinants of depression following acute coronary syndrome (ACS) are poorly understood. Triggering of ACS by emotional stress and low socio-economic status (SES) are predictors of adverse outcomes. We therefore investigated whether emotional triggering and low SES predict depression and anxiety following ACS.

Method This prospective observational clinical cohort study involved 298 patients with clinically verified ACS. Emotional stress was assessed for the 2 h before symptom onset and compared with the equivalent period 24 h earlier using case-crossover methods. SES was defined by household income and education. Depression was measured with the Beck Depression Inventory and the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression and anxiety with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale 3 weeks after ACS and again at 6 and 12 months. Age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, the Global Registry of Acute Coronary Events risk score, duration of hospital stay and history of depression were included as covariates.

Results Emotional stress during the 2-h hazard period was associated with increased risk of ACS (odds ratio 1.88, 95% confidence interval 1.01–3.61). Both low income and emotional triggering predicted depression and anxiety at 3 weeks and 6/12 months independently of covariates. The two factors interacted, with the greatest depression and anxiety in lower income patients who experienced acute emotional stress. Education was not related to depression.

Conclusions Patients who experience acute emotional stress during their ACS and are lower SES as defined by current affluence and access to resources are particularly vulnerable to subsequent depression and anxiety.

(Received August 05 2010)

(Revised November 25 2010)

(Accepted December 02 2010)

(Online publication January 07 2011)

Correspondence

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr A. Steptoe, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, 1–19 Torrington Place, London WC1E 6BT, UK. (Email: a.steptoe@ucl.ac.uk)

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