Predictors of Heart-Focused Anxiety in Patients Undergoing Genetic Investigation and Counseling of Long QT Syndrome or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: A One Year Follow-up
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Since Long QT syndrome and Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy are inherited cardiac disorders that may cause syncope, palpitations, serious arrhythmias, and sudden cardiac death, at-risk individuals may experience heart-focused anxiety. In a prospective multi-site study, 126 Norwegian patients attending genetic counseling were followed 1 year with multiple administration of questionnaires, including the Cardiac Anxiety Questionnaire, measuring three distinct symptoms of heart-focused anxiety- avoidance, attention, and fear—in mixed linear analyses. Overall, at 1-year follow-up, patients with clinical diagnosis as compared to patients at genetic risk had significantly higher scores of avoidance (p < .002), attention (p < .005), and fear (p < .007). Sudden cardiac death in close relatives, uncertainty whether other relatives previously had undergone genetic testing, patients’ perceived general health, self-efficacy expectations and procedural satisfaction with genetic counseling were influential in predicting the different symptoms of heart-focused anxiety over time.