Post-communist Bulgaria has experienced the full impact of a socioeconomic disaster. Under prolonged and powerful stress the human body may exhaust its adaptive potential and a variety of pathophysiological symptoms may occur. The cardiovascular system is most vulnerable to stress. The aim of this study is to analyze the role of psychological factors correlating with Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI) during the transition period in post-communist Bulgaria. A case-control epidemiological study was performed. 306 cases of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and 210 controls were studied. Analysis of patients’ records was made and a direct face-to-face interview was carried out. The study covers a 15-year transition period lasting from 1989 until 2005. The interview questions are based on W. Zung’s standardized self-evaluation tests of anxiety and depression (Self Rating Depression Scale - SDS, 1965, SAS-Self Rating Anxiety Scale, 1976) and on a test of aggression, as a part of the Minnesota Multiphase personality inventory, adapted from A.A. Krilov and F. Korozi’s FPI test. Average levels of anxiety and depression appear to be higher among patients suffering from coronary heart diseases than in control group members. Levels of aggression do not show a direct correlation with coronary heart disease. Both groups demonstrate symptoms of psychological disturbances caused, most probably, by the socio-economic instability of the transition period. In conclusion, certain socioeconomic factors significantly increase the level of anxiety and depression in the respondents. The AMI patients are considerably more anxious and depressed than the controls. The results provide evidence that high levels of anxiety and depression may correlate to and be interpreted as a potential risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.