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Depression After Heart Attack Means More Heart Problems



“[T]his finding may explain the relatively high effectiveness of psychoeducational interventions, including stress management and relaxation, to prevent cardiac events in coronary artery disease patients,” the researchers state in their manuscript.

For the study, the researchers observed 468 patients hospitalized for heart attack for a mean follow-up period of 2.5 years. Patients were clinically evaluated for depression while in the hospital and again at three months and 12 months post-heart attack. Those with heart attack-related depression experienced more fatal and non-fatal cardiovascular emergencies than did patients who either did not become depressed or who were depressed before having a heart attack.

Based on these findings, Dr. de Jonge said, researchers need to create interventional studies in which non-standard treatments for depression are evaluated in patients with post-heart attack depression to determine which methods are most effective in protecting long-term health.

Roland von K?nel, MD, a professor of medicine and head of the psychosomatic division at University Hospital Berne in Switzerland, did not participate in the study, but said it provides important information on “cardiotoxic” subtypes of depression and clues on improving care. Dr. von K?nel is the first author of an editorial comment about heart attack and depression that will be published in conjunction with the new research.

“Given what we now know, I believe that screening for depression should be part of today’s clinical practice in a cardiology setting any time a patient is referred to the ICU with a heart attack,” Dr. von K?nel said. “Depressed patients should be treated with counseling, referral to a psychotherapist and/or antidepressant medication – preferably an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) – depending upon the severity of their depression.”

SSRI medications seek to improve mood by slowing th
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