We know that depression is a known risk factor for heart disease. However, researchers have now uncovered that depression is a strong predictor of death after Coronary Artery Disease (CAD).
In a study published in the European Heart Journal, data from 24,137 patients with CAD were analyzed.
The researchers studied not only if they had a diagnosis of depression but also the length of time between the diagnosis of CAD and the diagnosis of depression.
Of those studied, over 15% (3646) were diagnosed with depression during follow-up after the diagnosis of the CAD.
These patients were younger, more likely to be female and diabetic, but were less likely to present with a heart attack.
Researchers summarised that post-CAD depression was ‘the strongest predictor of death,’ including the patients with no prior diagnosis of depression.
In addition, the risk of Cardiovascular Disease continued to be high for more than one year.
The lead researcher, Dr. Heidi May from the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute has this to say: “…If you have heart disease and depression and it’s not appropriately treated in a timely fashion, it’s not a good thing for your long-term well-being.”
She further states: “We know people with depression tend to be less compliant with medication on average and probably, in general, aren’t following healthier diets or exercise regimens. There may be underlying **pathophysiological mechanisms at play.
** Pathology is the science of the causes and effects of diseases. Pathophysiology is a combination of pathology with physiology.
Of course, the link between depression and heart disease has been well documented.
Earlier this year a major international study, published in World Psychiatry, showed that people with severe mental illness, including major depression, have an 85% greater risk of dying from Cardiovascular Disease than the general population.
This comprehensive analysis of severe mental illness and CVD analyzed data from 3.2 million patients and over 113 million people from the general population – including 92 studies covering four continents. Of these, 12% of the people with major depression had CVD.
And yet, the majority of these premature deaths may be preventable with the care that prioritizes lifestyle changes, such as exercise, better nutrition and stopping smoking, along with cautious prescribing of antipsychotics.”
And as Dr. May tells us:
“I hope the takeaway is this: it doesn’t matter how long it’s been since the patient was diagnosed with coronary artery disease. Continued screening for depression needs to occur. Even after 1 year, it doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods.”
So, there you have it. Why risk your future when the lifestyle adjustments we’ve talked about can help secure it?