Antidepressants Can Improve Cardiovascular Outcomes
A study being presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting this coming weekend reports that patients with moderate to severe depression who took antidepressants alone had a lower risk of death, coronary artery disease and stroke than patients with moderate to severe depression who did not take antidepressant or statin medications. Moderately to severely depressed patients taking only antidepressants also seemed to do better than those taking statins alone or a combination of statins and antidepressants.
Researchers in Salt Lake City analyzed the health records and death rates, coronary artery disease and stroke of more than 26,000 patients treated in the statewide network over a three-year period. Patients completed a nine-question depression screening questionnaire to determine their level of depressive symptoms. Based on the questionnaires, researchers identified 5,311 patients as having moderate to severe depression and 21,517 patients as having no to mild depression.
Depression is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This is the first study to assess the relative effects of the simultaneous use of antidepressants and cholesterol-lowering drugs among patients with varying levels of depressive symptoms.
Patients with moderate to severe depression who were taking antidepressants alone had a 53 percent lower risk of dying, developing coronary artery disease or having a stroke during the three-year follow-up period as compared to patients with moderate to severe depression who were not taking antidepressants or statins. Moderately to severely depressed patients taking antidepressants alone appeared to also fare better than those taking statins alone or a combination of statins and antidepressants, although these relationships were not directly analyzed. According to the lead researcher, Heidi May, PhD., MSPH, “We thought we’d see an additive effect—that taking both medications would lower the risk more than either drug alone—but we found that in the more depressed people, the antidepressant really was what made the biggest difference. Antidepressants were not associated with a reduced cardiovascular risk in people with little or no depression, but in moderately to severely depressed people, antidepressants were shown to significantly improve cardiovascular outcomes.”
Findings from another study scheduled for presentation at ACC also add to the evidence that depression may influence cardiovascular outcomes, prompting authors to call on cardiologists to pay closer attention to depression when managing patients with heart disease.
“The Association of Antidepressant and Statin Use to Future Death and Incident Cardiovascular Disease Varies by Depression Severity,” will be presented on March 15 at 9:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. UTC at the American College of Cardiology’s 64th Scientific Session in San Diego.
“Depression and Outcome of Patients with Acute Coronary Syndrome: A 3 Year Follow-up Study,” will be presented on March 14 at 9:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. UTC.