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For Some Women, Knowing About Heart Failure Spurs Worry

FRIDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Being well-informed about their disease may lead to depression in women with heart failure who repress their anger and other emotions about their condition, according to new research.

The study included 35 women with heart failure who were taking medication to manage the disease, and had symptoms such as shortness of breath and swelling in the legs and abdomen.

The women's coping styles affected their levels of depression or anxiety. The less they discussed or expressed their emotions, the more likely they were to have depression and anxiety symptoms, the Ohio State University researchers said.

The investigators also found that some of the women felt worse emotionally when they had more information about heart disease. For women who tend to deny their emotions, less knowledge about their disease may be better, according to the researchers.

The findings suggest that health care professionals should consider individual patients' coping styles when educating them about their condition.

"We're not saying knowledge is not a good thing," study co-author Charles Emery, professor of psychology at Ohio State, said in a university news release. "For patients who are greater in denial, knowledge seemed to be a negative factor. Whereas for people who either had difficulty expressing emotion or putting a label on their emotion, knowledge is still beneficial," he explained.

"The longer-term purpose of this line of research is to better predict which patient is going to benefit from which kind of intervention," he added. "Even with a high-denial patient, we would still embrace using knowledge. But we might identify non-aversive ways of presenting them with the knowledge."

The study was published in the March-April issue of the journal Heart & Lung: The Journal of Acute and Critical Care.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart failure.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, May 4, 2011

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