Angina PectorisAnxiety (Panic)/DepressionBreathingHeart DiseaseInositolPassionflowerStroke

The health risks of panic attacks in postmenopausal women and CAM options

The Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study reports “Panic attacks are relatively common among postmenopausal women and appear to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in older women.”

Let’s review the study and then the CAM connection.

First, the details.

  • 3369 community-dwelling, generally healthy postmenopausal women were enrolled after completing a questionnaire about occurrence of panic attacks in the previous 6 months.
  • The women came from 10 clinics around the US.

And, the results.

  • 10% of the women experienced full-blown panic attacks during the course of the study.
  • There was an association among these women and both coronary heart disease and the combined end point of coronary heart disease or stroke after for potential confounding factors.
  • There was also an association with the occurrence of death for any reason.

What’s this got to do with CAM?
An earlier entry on the effects of inositol is here. The effects of breathing instruction are summarized here.

Other studies published this year report the following?

  • A recent meta-analysis of studies concluded that for panic disorder without agoraphobia, cognitive therapy outperformed relaxation therapy for achieving a clinically significant change.
  • A study in patients with DSM-IV panic disorder reported superior results with 12 weeks of twice-weekly panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy compared to applied relaxation training.
  • Finally, a review of research with passiflora (passionflower extract) concluded there were too few studies to permit any conclusion.

10/2/07 10:54 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.