February 5, 2008 / 6:54 PM / 11 years ago

Persistent depression after heart trouble harmful

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Persistent depression is associated with worse physical health a year after heart attack or severe chest pain — known by the umbrella term “acute coronary syndrome” (ACS), researchers from Canada report.

Dr. Brett D. Thombs, from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, and colleagues investigated whether symptoms of depression during and after hospitalization for ACS predict physical health status 12 months after ACS in a study of 425 patients.

Based on a Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) score of 10 or higher, 123 patients (28.9 percent) had at least mild symptoms of depression while in the hospital and 102 patients (24.0 percent) had at least mild symptoms of depression a year later.

Patients with signs of depression in the hospital had significantly poorer physical health status 12 months after ACS compared with patients having a Beck Depression Inventory score below 10.

Persistent symptoms of depression significantly predicted worse physical health at 12 months compared with physical health before ACS, whereas new depressive symptoms showed only a nonsignificant trend to predict worse physical health.

Patients with fleeting symptoms of depression did not face a higher risk of poor physical health outcomes 12 months after ACS, the investigators say.

Based on these findings, Thombs and colleagues think doctors should assess symptoms of depression, “not only at the time of the acute ACS hospitalization, but also subsequently during follow-up visits.”

SOURCE: American Journal of Cardiology, January 1, 2008.

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