Sensitivity to depression or anxiety and subclinical cardiovascular disease

A. Seldenrijk, H.P.J. van Hout, H.W.J. van Marwijk, E. Groot, J. Gort, C. Rustemeijer, M. Diamant, B.W.J.H. Penninx

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Background: Depressive and anxiety disorders are highly overlapping, heterogeneous conditions that both have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Cognitive vulnerability traits for these disorders could help to specify what exactly drives CVD risk in depressed and anxious subjects. Our aim is to examine sensitivity to depression or anxiety in association with indicators of subclinical CVD. Methods: Data from 635 participants (aged 20-66 years) of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety were analyzed. Depression sensitivity was measured by the revised Leiden Index of Depression Sensitivity. Anxiety sensitivity was measured by the Anxiety Sensitivity Index. Subclinical CVD was measured as (1) carotid intima-media thickness and plaque presence using B-mode ultrasonography and (2) central arterial stiffness (augmentation index) using calibrated radial applanation tonometry. Results: After adjustment for sociodemographics, blood pressure, and LDL cholesterol, higher scores of anxiety sensitivity were associated with both increased likelihood of carotid plaques (OR per SD increase=1.34, 95%CI=1.06-1.68) and increased arterial stiffness (β=.06, p=.01). No significant associations were found with carotid intima-media thickness nor for depression sensitivity. Limitations: The cross-sectional design precludes causal inference. Current mood state could have influenced the self-reported sensitivity data. Conclusions: The presence of carotid plaques and central arterial stiffness was especially increased in subjects who tend to be highly fearful of anxiety-related symptoms. These observations suggest that vulnerability to anxiety, rather than to depression, represents a correlate of subclinical CVD. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)126-131
    JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


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