Is there cardiac risk in panic disorder? An updated systematic review

Daniela Caldirola*, Koen R. Schruers, Antonio E. Nardi, Domenico De Berardis, Michele Fornaro, Giampaolo Perna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: The recognized relationship between panic disorder (PD) and cardiac disorders (CDs) is not unequivocal. We reviewed the association between PD and coronary artery disease (CAD), arrhythmias, cardiomyopathies, and sudden cardiac death. Methods: We undertook an updated systematic review, according to PRISMA guidelines. Relevant studies dating from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2014, were identified using the PubMed database and a review of bibliographies. The psychiatric and cardiac diagnostic methodology used in each study was then to very selective inclusion criteria. Results: Of 3044 studies, 14 on CAD, 2 on cardiomyopathies, and 1 on arrhythmias were included. Overall, the studies supported a panic-CAD association. Furthermore, in some of the studies finding no association between current full-blown PD and CAD, a broader susceptibility to panic, manifesting as past PD, current agoraphobia, or subthreshold panic symptoms, appeared to be relevant to the development of CAD. Preliminary data indicated associations between panic, arrhythmias, and cardiomyopathies. Limitations: The studies were largely cross-sectional and conducted in cardiological settings. Only a few included blind settings. The clinical conditions of patients with CDs and the qualifications of raters of psychiatric diagnoses were highly heterogeneous. CDs other than CAD had been insufficiently investigated. Conclusions: Our review supported a relationship between PD and CDs. Given the available findings and the involvement of the cardiorespiratory system in the pathophysiology of PD, an in-depth investigation into the panic-CDs association is highly recommended. This should contribute to improved treatment and prevention of cardiac events and/or mortality, linked to PD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-49
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Panic
  • Cardiac risk
  • Cardiac disease

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