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Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation Funds Study Exploring Link between Heart Disease and Depression

U-M researchers to determine if treating depression improves health of

heart disease patients

DETROIT, Dec. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Studies show that people with heart disease are more likely to suffer from depression than those without heart disease. The link between these two diseases is not yet well understood, but it is known that depression in heart patients is under-recognized and, even when diagnosed, under-treated.

That's why researchers from the University of Michigan Health System's Depression Center and Division of Cardiovascular Medicine are partnering in a pilot study funded by the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to examine the link between heart disease and depression.

Through a year-long study, the researchers will determine if treating depression improves the health of heart disease patients. They also will develop effective ways to treat depression among heart patients. The study, funded by a $174,800 grant from the foundation, began earlier this month.

"Ultimately, we hope our findings will enable us to treat depression more effectively and improve outcomes for cardiovascular patients with depression," said Kevin Kerber, M.D., clinical assistant professor in the U-M Department of Psychiatry and Depression Center member.

Kerber and Melvyn Rubenfire, M.D., director of preventive cardiology for U-M Health System, will lead the pilot. They will identify and recruit approximately 480 cardiology patient volunteers.

Researchers will monitor how many heart patients in this group become depressed, and when symptoms first appear. They also will assess acceptance and compliance by patients and their doctors with depression monitoring and treatment.

During the first six months of the study, researchers will monitor and measure patient volunteers' moods. They will look for signs of when depression begins. The second half of the study will be dedicated to providing depressed patients with appropriate treatment. Patient volunteers may opt for follow-up care from their own physicians or U-M physicians.

"This is an important study because it will help us understand how best to treat depression in heart disease patients, and holds the promise of improving these patients' health and their lives," said Ira Strumwasser, executive director and CEO of the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation.

The Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation is dedicated to improving the health of Michigan residents by supporting health care research and innovative health programs. The foundation's grant programs are conducted in Michigan by Michigan-based researchers and nonprofit community health care organizations.

Over the past 25 years, the BCBSM Foundation has contributed approximately $20 million in grants for research and $5 million for community health programs. This funding has resulted in enhancements to quality, patient safety and access to care for the people of Michigan. The foundation also supports efforts to control the rising costs of health care through research, demonstration and evaluation projects.

The BCBSM Foundation is the philanthropic affiliate of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. The foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, visit

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
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