Treating the Blues Won't Reduce Heart Risk
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Researchers at several clinical centers around the United States say the treatment of depression and social isolation in recent heart attack patients does not reduce the risk of a second heart attack or death.
Lead investigator Robert M. Carney, Ph.D., from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, says, "The findings were disappointing."
Researchers at eight centers studied more than 2,800 heart attack patients who were enrolled in a study within 28 days of their heart attacks. About 39 percent of patients were depressed, another 26 percent had low perceived social support, and 34 percent had both. Participants were randomly assigned to either not receive any special treatment for their depression or to receive cognitive behavior therapy for six months, detailed assessments, assistance with social support, and, in some cases, antidepressant medication.
After more than two years, investigators found among the group that received standard care, 75.9 percent survived and did not suffer a second heart attack. In the group that received additional treatment for depression, 75.8 percent were still alive with no second heart attack.
However, results of the study showed an improved quality of life for those who received additional treatment. After six months, depressed patients receiving treatment had a 57-percent reduction in depression compared to a 47-percent reduction in the usual care group. Patients with low social support had a 27- percent improvement with treatment compared to an 18-percent improvement in the group that received standard care.
About 25 percent of heart attack patients report depression or social isolation, which contribute to three- to four-fold increases in their risk of death. Only about one in four depressed heart attack patients ever receives treatment for depression.
SOURCE: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2003;289:3106-3116
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