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Objective: This study aimed to analyze the longitudinal course of depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in patients with cardiac disease after heart surgery (HS). Methods: We conducted a systematic review and random-effects meta-analysis of cohort studies in patients undergoing HS, measuring anxiety, depressive, and PTSD symptoms before and at least 30 days thereafter. Subgroup and meta-regression analyses, investigation of publication bias, and quality assessment were undertaken. Results:We included 94 studies relating to 15,561 patients. HS included coronary artery bypass graft surgery, valve replacement, implantable cardioverter-defibrillator placement, left ventricular assist device placement, heart transplantation, and other types of HS. Across studies, symptoms of depression (g = 0.32; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.25 to 0.39; p < .001) and anxiety improved after HS (g = 0.52; 95% CI = 0.43 to 0.62; p < .001), whereas PTSD symptoms worsened (g = -0.42; 95% CI = -0.80 to -0.04; p = .032). The reduction of depression and anxiety levels was more pronounced for patients with underlying coronary artery disease and heart failure and persisted for 1 year after HS, whereas the increase in PTSD symptoms returned to baseline after 6 months. Depression improvement was inversely associated with older age, diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia and positively with baseline heart failure. No additional clinical or demographic variables were associated with the course of anxiety symptoms. Quality of included studies was low overall. Publication bias was nonsignificant. Conclusions: Depressive and anxiety symptoms improve for 1 year after HS, whereas PTSD symptoms might worsen. Older patients and those withmetabolic comorbidities, valve disease, or ventricular arrhythmias are at higher risk for continued depressive and anxiety symptoms and should be monitored closely.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-93
Number of pages9
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Anxiety
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Depression
  • Heart surgery
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder


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