Lifewatch: Heart disease and depression

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Depression increases the risk of heart failure in patients with heart disease, according to a study done by cardiac researchers.

A year ago, Barbara Jo Heiner received a heart transplant that ended more than 15 months of physical and psychological stress associated with her heart disease.

"I think that maybe, maybe they have diagnosed it wrong," said Heiner.  "I was definitely in denial. I really did start feeling like something was really, really wrong. I wasn't going to be able to go on my cruise with my grandchildren, and that's when I really started feeling depressed."

Epidemiological researchers at Intermountain Medical Center have documented an increased risk of heart failure in patients who develop depression subsequent to their diagnosis of heart disease.

"We found that there was a fifty percent increase in risk with patients with heart disease to develop heart failure," said epidemiological researcher Dr. Heidi May.

Though not all these heart patients experience depression, it happens enough to show up statistically significant amount the 13,000 singled out for the study.

May says even when anti-depressant drugs were used, they didn't appear to lower the risk factors.

"It would be natural to think that a reduction in depressive symptoms would be associated with a decreased risk, but we didn't find a risk change between those with depression on or off anti-depressants," said May.

Anti-depressants may not be able to alter the risks of heart failure, even when the drugs reduce the symptoms of the depression.

May said more studies are needed to identify possible links between the two disorders and what clinicians should do to help their patients.

To learn more about the relation between heart disease and depression, click here.