Determinants and trajectory of phobic anxiety in patients living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator.
The implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is the gold standard therapy to prevent life-threatening arrhythmias. Phobic anxiety predicts ventricular arrhythmia in coronary heart disease patients, but little is known about phobic anxiety in ICD patients. This study aimed to identify determinants and the course of phobic anxiety in ICD patients.140 outpatients living with an ICD (mean age 56±14 years, 66% men).Phobic anxiety was assessed with the Symptom Checklist-90 Revised at a mean of 27±21 months (range 3-109) post-ICD placement (baseline) and after an average follow-up of 41±18 months (range 10-82). Multivariate linear regression models considered sociodemographic factors, clinical variables and psychological scales as potential determinants of phobic anxiety scores.ICD patients reported more than 10-fold higher levels of phobic anxiety than a previous representative population survey (2.6±3.4 vs 0.2±0.4). Greater age (p=0.003), previous shock experience (p=0.007), depressed mood (p<0.001) and hypochondriasis (p=0.005) were associated with higher phobic anxiety scores at baseline. Multimorbidity (p=0.030) and higher baseline phobic anxiety (p<0.001) determined greater phobic anxiety at follow-up. Younger age (p=0.029) and an elevated number of non-cardiac diseases (p=0.019) were both associated with an increase in phobic anxiety scores from baseline to follow-up. More patients had high phobic anxiety levels (score>4) at follow-up compared with baseline (31% vs 24%; p=0.048).Phobic anxiety was comparably high and persisted over time in ICD patients. Modifiable determinants of phobic anxiety were identified, which may inform tailored interventions to improve ICD patients' distress and perhaps also prognosis.