Life-time history of suicide attempts and coronary artery disease in a community-dwelling elderly population

Authors


Abstract

Background

Numerous studies have observed a strong relationship between coronary artery disease (CAD) and psychiatric disorder; notably depression, anxiety and panic attacks. No study has, however, explored the question of whether persons suffering from CAD might also be at high risk of suicide attempts.

Objective

The aim of the present study is to examine the relationship between CAD within a general population cohort and life-time history of psychiatric disorder and suicidal behaviour.

Method

A representative sample of 1843 non-institutionalized persons over 65, drawn at random from the electoral roll, was given a standardized neurological and psychiatric examination based on DSM-IV criteria. The clinical examination also included an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a questionnaire relating to life-time medical history. Cardiac events were validated by the general practitioner.

Results

Within this general population sample the prevalence of suicide attempts was 3.9%. A significant positive association was observed between life-time prevalence of CAD and suicide attempts (p < 0.04). Suicide attempts were associated with major depression (p < 0.001) co-morbid anxiety and depression (p < 0.001) but not anxiety alone (p = 0.16). A logistic regression analysis showed that the relationship between suicide attempts and CAD persists after adjustment for depression and anxiety.

Conclusion

CAD is associated with suicidal behaviour independently of depression, however, longitudinal studies are required to clarify the direction of causality and to integrate genetic, biological, environmental and psychological factors into an aetiological model. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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