20 May, 2009

Depression ups risk of heart attacks

Heart patients diagnosed with depression face a greater risk of heart failure, a condition when the organ is unable to pump enough blood throughout the body, a new study has found.

This study, the first to investigate how depression in the wake of heart disease can increase the likelihood of heart failure, also found that anti-depressants did not appear to mitigate this risk.

"Our data suggests that depression is an important and emerging risk factor for heart failure among patients with coronary heart disease."

"Interestingly, when we stratified patients with depression by whether they received anti-depressant medication or not, the incidence of heart failure didn't change."

"This finding may indicate that anti-depressants may not be able to alter the physical or behavioral risks associated with depression and heart failure, despite a potential improvement in depressive symptoms."

There are a number of other risk factors associated with depression and heart failure, including smoking, hypertension, diabetes and being overweight.

Prior studies have reported that patients with depression are also less likely to practice good health habits or adhere to treatment regimens (e.g. taking medications properly, following a recommended exercise programme and keeping scheduled appointments).