BACKGROUND: Approximately 30-40% of heart patients develop anxiety and/or depression, which might influence recovery and long-term survival. Research has suggested that support from relatives may decrease anxiety and depression among heart patients; however, the results are inconsistent and often based on small study populations.
AIM: The paper aimed to investigate the association between having supportive relatives and the occurrence of anxiety and depression in heart patients.
METHODS: A population-based cross-sectional study among Danish patients diagnosed with ischemic heart disease, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, or heart valve disease. Presence of supportive relatives was measured as the degree to which the patients felt that they had relatives they could count on, while symptoms of anxiety and depression were measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Multiple logistic regression analyses accounting for confounders were used to examine the association between supportive relatives and anxiety/depression.
RESULTS: The questionnaire was answered by 2496 heart patients, corresponding to 50% of the invited population. Patients with low or some degree of supportive relatives had a higher odds ratio (OR) of anxiety than patients with a high degree (OR = 2.20, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.28-2.37; OR = 1.75, 95% CI: 1.57-3.08, respectively). Likewise, patients with low or some degree of supportive relatives had a higher OR of depression than patients with a high degree (OR = 1.96, 95% CI: 1.40-2.66; OR = 1.93, 95% CI: 1.37-2.60, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: The presence of supportive relatives was found to be associated with lower occurrence of anxiety and depression. Health professionals should focus on including relatives in the treatment and rehabilitation of heart patients.