Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kevin Larkin.


For survivors of MI, the most common subsequent psychological complications include anxiety and depression. Recent interest has increased in examining the incidence of anxiety disorders, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), among post-MI patients. The purpose of this study was to prospectively evaluate trauma responses among a consecutive sample of post-MI patients. Forty-six post MI patients completed questionnaires and forty completed structured interviews during their initial hospitalization for MI. Six of these individuals reported acute stress disorder symptoms in response to their MI. These six patients scored significantly higher on most measures of PTSD. Thirty-two individuals completed a follow-up assessment of PTSD symptoms. Eight individuals (30%) reported symptoms sufficient for a diagnosis of PTSD; five of whom had subclinical symptoms during Phase One. Younger age, lower levels of perceived social support from family, and less use of avoidant coping style significantly predicted PTSD measures at follow-up. Physician ratings of distress, perceived distress during MI, anticipated disability as a result of MI, and prior exposure to more traumatic events significantly correlated with PTSD measures, but they did not add unique variance in the regression models. Objective measures of the severity of the MI (peak cardiac enzymes, ejection fraction, and length of stay) did not correlate with number or severity of PTSD responses. Finally, prior exposure to traumatic events significantly predicted overall psychological distress. These findings suggest that PTSD is a common reaction to MI and that efforts to assess this treatable anxiety disorder, using multidisciplinary teams including mental health professionals should be encouraged.