Treating depression may lower heart disease risk

Washington: Effectively treating depression can reduce a patient’s chance of having a stroke, heart attack or death, according to a new study.

The research found that effective treatment for depression can reduce a patient’s heart risks to the same level as those who never had short-term depression. “Our study shows that prompt, effective treatment of depression appears to improve the risk of poor heart health,” said Heidi May from Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in the US.

“With the help of past research, we know depression affects long-term cardiovascular risks, but knowing that alleviating the symptoms of depression reduces a person’s risk of heart disease in the short term, too, can help care providers and patients commit more fully to treating the symptoms of depression,” May said.”The key conclusion of our study is – if depression is not treated, the risk of cardiovascular complications increases significantly,” she added.

Researchers compiled information from 7,550 patients who completed at least two depression questionnaires over the course of one to two years. Patients were categorised based on the results of their survey as never depressed, no longer depressed, remained depressed, or became depressed.

Following each patient’s completion of the last questionnaire, patients were followed to see if they had any major cardiovascular problems such as a stroke, heart failure, heart attack or death. At the end of the study, 4.6 per cent of patients who were no longer depressed had a similar occurrence of major cardiovascular complications as those who had no depression at all (4.8 per cent), researchers said.

Those who remained depressed and those who became depressed throughout the study, had increased occurrences of major cardiovascular problems — their rates were 6 and 6.4 per cent, respectively, they said.

Treatment for depression resulted in a decreased risk of cardiovascular risk that was similar to someone who did not have depression, researchers said.

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