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Depression and Heart Attack Link

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 10:09 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Heart Attack, Depression, American Heart Association, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Drug Products

Guidelines for depression screening after a heart attack issued by the American heart Association.



 IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons/ diagram of a heart attack/ author: U.S. Govt. 


A new report suggests that depression is far more common for heart patients than previously thought, and routine screening should take place in a medical setting. 

More than 80 million Americans suffer from heart disease and it’s the top cause of death.

The depression that accompanies it can affect a patient’s health outlook and quality of life, according to research and the issuance of new guidelines by the American Heart Association.

Researchers reviewed dozens of studies on patients following a heart attack and found depression is three times more common compared to the general population. 

Surprisingly, young women seem the most susceptible to depression following a heart attack.

And in a vicious cycle, studies show that depressed heart patients often stop taking their medications, follow a healthy diet, and regularly exercise.

Depression is found to bring about negative changes in the body that can lead to further heart disease, such as an increase in the formation of blood clots.

Depressed heart patients have at least twice the risk of another heart event within two years, according to researchers. More severe depression is linked to earlier and a more critical second heart event. 

The scientific advisory panel recommends that early and repeated screening for depression and anxiety follow a heart attack.

Cardiac patients should ask themselves if they’ve felt down, depressed, and hopeless.  If so, medication, cognitive therapy, and exercise are generally be recommended. 

"The important message is to identify people and offer them treatment," said Erika Froelicher, a professor at the UCSF School of Nursing and Medicine and a co-author of the guidelines.  

Depression may be a cause of the heart attack in the first place. People with depression might not exercise or eat well, or they might smoke, says Froelicher.

Judith Lichtman of Yale University School of Medicine, helped write the new guidelines. She believes more research is still needed to understand the link between heart attacks and depression.

"Because there has been no routine screening for depression in heart patients, we think there is a large group of people who could benefit from appropriate treatment," she said in a statement.

The American Heart Association’s first scientific statement on depression and coronary heart disease appear in the journal Circulation.  

Mended Hearts Inc. is a national nonprofit support group whose volunteers visit heart patients in the hospital to share their experiences.  #


Anonymous User
Posted by Paulette Rogers
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 2:31 PM EST

After I had my heart attack within about 2 months I went through a post tramatic stress time. It was horrible, I didn't want to be left alone, I was so depressed that I wouldn't eat, go anywhere, stopped driving and had alot of panic attacks. So I think that there is alot of depression out there and no one to help.
Thank you

Anonymous User
Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 3:06 PM EST

Hi Paulette-
Thanks for writng and we hope you are feeling better.

It helps to surround yourself with supportive people and hopefully they've helped you heal. Mended Hearts sounds like a good resource.....

Posted by Joe Slykerman
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 3:37 PM EST

I had Quintuple bypass in 2001 and soon after I had a issue with depression. I had heard about the Mended Hearts and there was a chapter in my town. I went to a meeting and the first person I met was over 80 years old. He told me he had bypas 25 years prior so I looked at my wife and said, at least I have 25 years. Since then I have become a Mended Hearts volumnteer and visit people in the hospital who have had heart surgery. Once they see someone who has been there and is doing fine, recovery comes more easy. If you have issues you can go to the following and talk with someone who has been there.


Anonymous User
Posted by kala
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 8:16 PM EST

how can i learn more

Anonymous User
Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, September 30, 2008 9:51 PM EST

Hi Kala-

You can reach Mended Hearts at the web site listed above:

or give them a call at 1-888-432-7899

Good luck!

Anonymous User
Posted by Patricia Catherine Featherstone
Wednesday, October 01, 2008 5:07 PM EST

I have this dreadful ache in the top of my right leg/groin plus a niggling under my left breast. Lost the right breast to cancer.
My doctor says I am suffering from stress. Of course I am as I feel unwell that's why I am stressed I think its called catch 22. If Only I felt well I wouldn't be stressed!!!!!!!!!!! Any suggestions

Comments for this article are closed.

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