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American Heart Association Scientific Statement: Heart Patients Should Be Screened, Treated for Depression
Date:9/30/2008

Studies show that depression is about three times more common in patients following a heart attack than in the general community.

Heart patients should be screened for depression, and treated if necessary.

DALLAS, Sept. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Heart patients should be screened for depression -- a common condition that can profoundly affect both prognosis and quality of life -- according to the American Heart Association's first scientific statement on depression and coronary heart disease. The statement was published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The recommendations, which are endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association, include:

-- early and repeated screening for depression in heart patients;

-- the use of two questions to screen patients -- if depression is

suspected the remaining questions are asked (9 questions total);

-- coordinated follow-up for both heart disease and depressive symptoms in

patients who have both.

"The statement was prompted by the growing body of evidence that shows a link between depression in cardiac patients and a poorer long-term outlook," said Erika Froelicher, R.N., M.A., M.P.H., Ph.D., a professor at the University of California San Francisco, School of Nursing and Medicine and co-chair of the writing group.

Dale Briggs, who experienced depression after his heart valve surgery, said the statement is welcome news. "I think it's long overdue. It is unfortunate that some patients aren't warned of the possibility of some depression after surgery," he said.

Briggs is the volunteer executive vice president of Mended Hearts, Inc., a national non-profit organization affiliated with the heart association, offering resources and support for heart surgery patients. He shares his experience with new cardiac patients during hospital visits -- one of the main patient-to-patient support services offered by Mended H
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SOURCE American Heart Association
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