What is cardiac distress and how should we measure it?

Alun C Jackson, Barbara M. Murphy, David, R. Thompson , Chantal F Ski, Marlies Alvarenga, MR Le Grande, John Amerena, Rosemary O Higgins, David A Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


After cardiac events, rates of depression and anxiety of 20–30% have been reported, along with elevated rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and higher rates of suicide. As unresolved negative affect is associated with greater morbidity and mortality, attempts have been made to understand the complexity of emotional and psychological responses to cardiac events. Although many studies purport to measure ‘cardiac distress’, they are often limited by adopting a definition of distress as depression plus anxiety. Following the lead of the oncology and diabetes fields in the development of condition-specific distress measures, this article argues for a multidimensional approach to cardiac distress and its measurement; it builds on the concept of the ‘cardiac blues’, to show the importance of understanding and measuring how this transient phenomenon of adjustment can become a persistent negative state which challenges the ability to cope with living after a cardiac event.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Cardiac Nursing
Issue number6
Early online date29 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jun 2018


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