March 3, 2008 -- Depressed heart attack patients have a higher risk for sudden death in the months following a heart attack. Now a team led by researchers from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found that the risk continues for many years.
"There's a two- to four-fold increase in a person's risk of dying following a heart attack if they also happen to be depressed," says Robert. M. Carney, Ph.D., lead author of the new study and professor of psychiatry at Washington University. "Previously we thought the impact of depression was strongest for the first three to six months following a heart attack and then gradually dropped off within a couple of years. Instead, we found that the effect lasts for at least five years."
Carney, with colleagues from Duke University Medical Center, Harvard University, Yale University, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) and the Mayo Clinic, followed more than 750 heart attack patients for five years. The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders and are currently available online.
Patients followed in the study had participated in the NIH-funded project Enhancing Recovery in Coronary Heart Disease Patients (ENRICHD). A little less than half were diagnosed with depression.
In the five years following a heart attack, 106 patients died. Of those, 62 had been diagnosed with depression, while 44 had not. In gauging the effects of depression, the investigators also considered other risks including age, smoking, hypertension, gender and diabetes.
Some of those factors, like younger age and female gender, lower mortality risk. Smoking and diabetes tend to raise the risk of dying. Carney says his team used statistical methods to evaluate the ways in which the various factors influenced mortality risk. Then they removed the influence of all other factors from the risk equation in order to consider the statistical impac
|Contact: Jim Dryden|
Washington University School of Medicine