Category: Adult Anxiety

Symposium

Anxiety Sensitivity in Smokers With Indicators of Cardiovascular Disease

Sunday, November 19
9:45 AM - 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom B, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Anxiety Sensitivity | Behavioral Medicine | Smoking
Presentation Type: Symposium

Background: There is growing recognition of the importance of understanding the nature of the associations between anxiety and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Anxiety sensitivity, a risk factor for anxiety psychopathology, may be elevated among individuals with CVD due to increased presence of physiological and autonomic disturbance, which may serve as a prominent cue for perceived danger and risk. The current study aimed to characterize the nature of anxiety sensitivity among (a) community-recruited sample of smokers with self-reported indicators of CVD and (b) a small sample of patients with CVD who are enrolled in cardiac rehabilitation post-cardiac event. Method: The community sample included daily smokers (n = 619; 50.9% female; Mage = 44.0, SD = 13.67) who completed an online survey that included the Anxiety Sensitivity Index-3 (ASI-3). The presence of CVD was assessed via the presence of ≥ 1 of the following: heart attack, heart murmur, positive stress test, heart valve abnormality, angina, and heart failure. The clinical CVD patients were enrolled in a 12-week standardized cardiac rehabilitation program and completed the ASI-3 during treatment. Data collection is ongoing for the clinical sample. Results: In the community sample, smokers with CVD indicators (n = 66, 10.7%) had significantly higher scores on the ASI-3 (M = 33.5, SD = 22.15), relative to smokers without CVD (M = 22.0, SD = 17.92; d = .57). Those with CVD were significantly more likely to have moderate or high anxiety sensitivity (66.7%) relative to those without CVD (49.4%). Physical and social concerns about the meaning of somatic sensations were common among smokers with CVD. These results will be compared to ASI-3 scores from the CVD patients and examined in terms of clinical CVD features. Discussion: Anxiety sensitivity appears to be prominent in individuals with CVD and may therefore be an important target for treatment. Excessive worry and fear of bodily sensations (including cardiac sensations) may increase subjective cardiac symptoms, which may lead to maladaptive responses (e.g., avoidance of poor physical activity in cardiac rehabilitation).

Samantha G. Farris

Postdoctoral Fellow
Alpert Medical School of Brown University, The Miriam Hospital, Centers for Behavioral and Preventative Medicine; Butler Hospital

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