Posttraumatic stress disorder following myocardial infarction or cardiac surgery

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry; Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine



Document Type

Book Chapter

Medical Subject Headings

Anxiety; Comorbidity; Coronary Disease; Depression; Health Status Indicators; Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic


Cardiovascular Diseases | Health Psychology | Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Mental Disorders | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Although traumatic events, such as combat and physical or sexual assault, are most often associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; Kessler, Sonnega, Bromet, Hughes, & Nelson, 1995), a growing body of research indicates that PTSD can occur in individuals with a wide range of life-threatening illnesses (Buckley, Green, & Schnurr, 2004; Tedstone & Tarrier, 2003). The prevalence of PTSD for such medical conditions as myocardial infarction (MI), HIV, or cancer is lower than the prevalence associated with traumatic stressors such as combat or sexual assault, but PTSD can develop in a significant percentage of individuals who experience a life-threatening illness (Tedstone & Tarrier, 2003). In this chapter, we review research on the occurrence of PTSD in adults with cardiac disease. Investigators have been interested in this issue because, for some individuals, the onset of an acute cardiac event shares many features of traumatic events, such as combat or sexual assault. We begin by presenting a description of PTSD and then review research on its occurrence in adults with cardiac disease. This research focuses largely on individuals who have experienced an MI or undergone coronary artery bypass graft surgery (CABG). There have also been a few reports of PTSD in individuals who have survived cardiac arrest. We then examine findings regarding the course of PTSD and risk factors for its development, and we close with a discussion of future research directions and implications for clinical practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)


Citation: Doerfler, L. A., & Paraskos, J. A. (2011). Posttraumatic stress disorder following myocardial infarction or cardiac surgery. In R. Allen & J. Fisher (Eds.) Heart & mind: The evolution of cardiac psychology (p. 249 – 268). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI 10.1037/13086-010