Prescribing antidepressants for patients before they have heart bypass surgery helps them "get on with their lives more quickly after such a serious surgical procedure," Chocron said in the news release.
Bruno agreed that treating even mild depression is important.
"I agree with the authors' concluding suggestion that, unless contraindicated, there should be a relatively low threshold . . . for initiating antidepressant therapy" in these types of heart patients, he said.
But another expert said the study reveals little about the strategy for patients with more severe depression.
"The mild benefit associated with the use of antidepressants in this study is consistent with a population which was not significantly depressed," noted Dr. Dan Iosifescu, director of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program and associate professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
He said "the patients in this study had depressive symptoms in a range which usually does not qualify for a diagnosis of depression." Therefore, "on balance this study provides helpful information on the safety of antidepressants in post-[bypass] patients," Iosifescu said, "but does not contribute to our understanding of their usefulness since the study population appears to have very low rates of depression."
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
-- Robert Preidt
SOURCES: Bryan Bruno, M.D., acting chairman, department of psychiatry, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Dan V. Iosifescu, M.D., director, Mood and Anx
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