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Evaluation for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) can trigger posttraumatic stress symptoms (PSS). Research suggests that younger, versus older, individuals may be at elevated risk for PSS after ACS evaluation. It has been proposed that younger individuals may be at greater risk because they perceive the suspected ACS event as more threatening than their older counterparts; however, this has yet to be tested. We examined whether perceived threat during ACS evaluation mediated the association between age and PSS after ACS evaluation in an observational cohort study of patients presenting to the emergency department (ED) with suspected ACS. Demographics and perceived threat were assessed in the ED. PSS were measured upon inpatient transfer or by phone 3 days later. The analytic sample comprised 871 adult participants. Multiple linear regression was used to examine (1) associations of age and perceived threat with PSS and (2) whether perceived threat mediated the association. Bootstrapping with percentile-based confidence intervals (CIs) was used to test the indirect effect. Each year of age was associated with lower PSS (b = − 0.12, p < .001), independent of covariates. Older age was associated with lower perceived threat during ACS evaluation (b = − 0.05, p < .001). Greater threat perceptions predicted greater PSS (b = 0.94, p < .0001). The indirect effect (− 0.04) was statistically significant (95% CI − 0.07, − 0.02). Younger, versus older, individuals are at risk for greater PSS after ACS evaluation, and elevated perceived threat partially mediated this association. Understanding age differences in PSS development risk and the potential impact of age on threat perceptions may help inform ED treatment.
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- The role of perceived threat during emergency department cardiac evaluation and the age-posttraumatic stress disorder link
Jennifer A. Sumner
- Springer US