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Study suggests sensitivity to bodily symptoms of anxiety may make a difference in treatment
Date:10/24/2010

Montreal − Levels of anxiety sensitivity may be important in choosing medical treatment for patients with heart failure and atrial fibrillation (AF), Montreal Heart Institute researchers today told the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2010, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.

Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher and lead author Nancy Frasure-Smith, PhD explained that anxiety sensitivity is the degree to which a person is frightened by bodily sensations and symptoms, particularly those associated with anxiety.

"For most people, sweaty palms and an increasing heart rate are simply unpleasant symptoms that occur in stressful situations, for others these same symptoms are interpreted as a sign of impending doom," says Dr. Frasure-Smith. "People with high anxiety sensitivity tend to magnify the potential consequences of their anxiety symptoms, leading to an increase in anxiety and its symptoms in a spiralling increase of fear and worry."

While anxiety sensitivity is known to predict the occurrence of panic attacks in cardiac and non-cardiac patients, and is associated with greater symptom preoccupation and worse quality of life in patients with AF, it has not been previously studied as a predictor of cardiac outcomes.

These results are based on a sub-study from the Atrial Fibrillation and Congestive Heart Failure Trial (AF-CHF), a randomized trial of rhythm versus rate control treatment strategies whose results were presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in 2008. AF-CHF, which was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, was directed by Dr. Denis Roy, cardiologist at the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) and vice-dean of the Universit de Montral's faculty of medicine.

Prior to randomization 933 AF-CHF study participants completed a paper and pencil measure of anxiety sensitivity. They were then randomly placed in one of two treatment groups: a 'rhythm' group th
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Contact: Jane-Diane Fraser
jfraser@hsf.ca
613-569-4361 x273
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Source:Eurekalert

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