Heart attacks and depression

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: January 16th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A heart attack is one of the most traumatic experiences a person can endure. So it’s not surprising that heart patients are far more likely to suffer from depression than the rest of the population. But too often, the psychological aspects of the disease are overlooked, experts say.

To combat this, the American Heart Association issued a sweeping recommendation calling for all heart patients to be screened for symptoms of depression. The move was also endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association.

Why was this recommendation necessary? According to the A-H-A, people who suffer a heart attack are three times more likely to exhibit symptoms of depression. About fifteen to twenty percent of heart attack patients meet the clinical definition of depression, according to one study. Other patients, including those who have bypass surgery or congestive heart failure, are also more likely to be depressed.

In addition to the obvious drawbacks of depression, it can also be bad for your health. Among heart attack patients, those who are depressed are at least twice as likely to suffer another cardiac event in the next two years. Experts say this may be attributed to the fact that those who suffer from depression are more susceptible to disease. People who are depressed are also less likely to take medication, participate in rehabilitative care, improve their diet and exercise.

If you feel you may be suffering from depression, consult your doctor. Your heart just might thank you for it.