Can Treating Depression Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack?
Could treating depression lower your risk of heart attack or stroke? The results of one study — comparing antidepressants and statins — surprised researchers.
Don’t let heart disease get you down. Heart disease patients with depression tend to have worse outcomes.
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That fact is nothing new. But does that mean treating depression could lower your risk of heart attack, stroke or another major cardiac event? A recent study intended to find out.
Here’s what happened:
“Patients who are depressed and treated for depression tend to have better quality of life, better outlook and better adherence to cardiovascular wellness activities,” says Cleveland Clinic psychiatrist Leo Pozuelo, MD.
In other words, when you are emotionally sound, you are more likely to be physically active, eat better and comply with other doctor’s orders, such as taking prescription medications. That can improve your heart health.
However, it doesn’t mean depression treatment is better for your heart than conventional treatments, like taking statins, warns Dr. Pozuelo.
“While the study reported that those on antidepressants but no statins fared better, we don’t know enough about the patients — such as their lipid levels or health behaviors — to really understand the impact of statins or no statins,” says Dr. Pozuelo.
Recognizing and managing depression is an important part of treating patients with heart disease, but it’s not the only part. “Assessing depression should be part of every evaluation for heart disease, just like screening for high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” concludes Dr. Pozuelo.