Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Phobic anxiety and ischaemic heart disease.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 01 August 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:297
  1. A P Haines,
  2. J D Imeson,
  3. T W Meade
  1. MRC Epidemiology and Medical Care Unit, Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, Middlesex.


    A prospective study of the relation between scores on the six subscales of the Crown-Crisp experiential index and subsequent incidence of ischaemic heart disease was undertaken among participants in the Northwick Park heart study. Results from 1457 white men aged 40-64 at recruitment showed that phobic anxiety was strongly related to subsequent major ischaemic heart disease (fatal and non-fatal events combined) when other associated variables were taken into account. The phobic anxiety score alone remained significantly associated with ischaemic heart disease when scores on all the subscales were included in the analysis. Phobic anxiety seemed to be particularly associated with fatal ischaemic heart disease but was not associated with deaths from other causes and was no higher in those with a pre-existing myocardial infarction at recruitment than in those without. There was a consistent increase in risk of fatal ischaemic heart disease with score on the phobic anxiety subscale. The relative risk for those whose score was 5 and above was 3.77 (95% confidence interval 1.64 to 8.64) compared with those whose score was 0 or 1. The 49 participants with evidence of myocardial infarction at recruitment had higher scores on the subscales for free floating anxiety and functional somatic complaint. The Crown-Crisp experiential index is simple to fill out and acceptable to patients. When the results are combined with other known risk factors it may be of use in defining high risk subjects and in planning strategies for prevention.