Depression after heart attack

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 13, 2005

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One in five patients hospitalized for a heart attack develop major depression. This is associated with worse outcomes, primarily because depressed patients are less likely to take their medications as instructed or heed advice on lifestyle changes to prevent future attacks, according to a review of the literature issued by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality last month.

Report authors also found that about two-thirds of heart attack patients who initially develop depression continue to be depressed for months after, and counseling and antidepressants can reduce symptoms. Evidence was not sufficient, however, to suggest that therapy reduces the odds of dying from a subsequent cardiac event.

"This report provides the scientific evidence clinicians need to know about the prevalence of depression in heart attack survivors, how depression affects these patients, and the need to treat the disease early," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD.

This review was requested by the American Academy of Family Physicians. The academy plans to use the report to develop clinical practice guidelines.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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