An objective measurement of anxiety at defined intervals after the onset of acute cardiac symptoms was made in 203 men admitted to the Coronary Care Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, and in 83 patients in a Teesside coronary survey. Of the Teesside patients, 50 were treated at home, 22 were admitted initially to a coronary care unit, and 11 were admitted directly to a general medical ward. In the Edinburgh patients the level of anxiety was high early in the illness, fell rapidly, and rose again towards the end of their stay in hospital. At 4 months it was that of a normal population. After transfer from the coronary care unit the group was not more anxious than other patients in the ward. Reaction to the illness was unrelated to its physical severity. Patients who reacted badly at the beginning were less likely to return to work. The pattern of anxiety in the Teesside patients resembled that of the Edinburgh group, and reaction to illness was largely independent of physical aspects. Treatment in hospital, either through a coronary care unit initially or in a medical ward, did not increase emotional distress. At 3 months patients treated initially in a coronary care unit were less anxious than the others. Throughout the period of study the Teesside patients were more anxious than the Edinburgh patients and outcome was not related to anxiety. Social and environmental differences may account for this.
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