Does generalized anxiety disorder predict coronary heart disease risk factors independently of major depressive disorder?

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Background: Anxiety symptoms are associated with elevated coronary heart disease (CHD) risk, but it is not known whether such associations extend to anxiety disorders or if they are independent of depression. We sought to determine if generalized anxiety disorder is associated with elevated CHD risk, and whether this association is independent of or interacts with major depressive disorder. Methods: Generalized anxiety and major depressive disorders were assessed in a cross-sectional survey of a representative sample of U.S. adults aged 25-74 (N = 3032). Coronary heart disease risk was determined by self-reported smoking status, body mass index, and recent medication use for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes. Results: Generalized anxiety disorder independently predicted increased CHD risk (F(1,3018) = 5.14; b = 0.39; 95% confidence interval (0.05-0.72)) and tended to denote the greatest risk in the absence of major depressive disorder. Limitations: The cross-sectional design cannot determine the causal direction of the association. Conclusions: Generalized anxiety disorder appears to be associated with elevated CHD risk in the general population. It may denote excess CHD risk relative to major depressive disorder, and clinicians should consider CHD risk when treating generalized anxiety disorder.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-91
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005



  • Blood pressure
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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