Learning that you have a serious chronic disease can be stressful. Now a group of researchers in Korea provide evidence (Park et al. 2022) that mental health problems can be an important consequence of diagnosis with HCM.
The research team was led by Hyung-Kwan Kim of Seoul National University. These scientists compared the risk of mental health disorders in newly-diagnosed HCM patients with people who had not been diagnosed with HCM. They used National Health Insurance Service records to identify more than 4,000 HCM patients and more than 12,000 controls. Kim et al. used a technique called propensity scoring to find a group of controls with similar characteristics for a range of social, medical, and lab test results. Then they compared the numbers of patients in the two groups who developed mood, anxiety, stress-related, or sleep disorders.
In the first month after diagnosis, HCM patients were 3.07 times more likely to be diagnosed with at least one mental health issue. This increased risk of new mental health diagnoses declined over time: the hazard ratio was 2.3 over the first 1-12 months, 2.09 over years 1-3, and 1.3 for greater than 3 years.
Further study needed
Are these mental health disorders transient? How much do they impact patients’ lives? Further research is needed to clarify this issue.
Mental health component of HCM programs
Mental health issues appear to occur more frequently in HCM patients after diagnosis. This suggests that HCM centers and individual cardiologists need to be aware of mental health issues, screening patients and referring them as appropriate. One resource in the USA is provided by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Park, J.B., Yun, J.Y., Kim, B., Rhee, T.M., Lee, H.J., Lee, H., Hwang, I.C., Yoon, Y.E., Park, H.E., Lee, S.P. and Choi, S.Y., 2022. Risk of Incident Mental Disorders in Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: A Nationwide Propensity-Matched Study. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
The HCMA is working toward building better resources both within HCMA-recognized Centers of Excellence and within the HCMA’s internal service model to help meet the mental health challenges that come with HCM.