Depression not linked to late heart attack death

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who are hospitalized with a heart attack may be more likely to die over the short term if they are clinically depressed, but the risk wanes in the long run, according to a new study.

Dr. Roy C. Ziegelstein, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and colleagues checked into the status of 284 patients 8 years after they had had a heart attack. Depression was diagnosed in 76 (27 percent) of them at the time the heart attack.

There were 136 deaths after 8 years, the team reports in the American Journal of Cardiology.

Depression during hospitalization for the heart attack was significantly related to an increased death rate 4 months later. However, after that point the risk declined, and by 8 years after the heart attack there was no association between depression and the odds of dying.

Ziegelstein’s team did link age, impaired heart and kidney function, and non-use of aspirin to the risk of dying during the years after a heart attack. However, none of these factors changed the relationship between depression and mortality.

SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology, March 2008.