AHA panel: Depression should be risk factor

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Depression has been linked to poor outcomes in patients with certain cardiac conditions, and an American Heart Association (AHA) panel argued in a scientific statement published online Feb. 24 in Circulation that it should be considered a risk factor for poor prognosis among patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

The expert panel conducted a review of research on depression and adverse outcomes after ACS that included all-cause mortality, cardiac mortality and composites for mortality and nonfatal events. They included 53 studies in their analysis.

Although the studies differed considerably in participant demographics, how depression was defined and measured, time of follow-up and the variables included in multivariate analysis, the findings were similar. Most of the studies found a significant association between depression and death or other major cardiovascular events.

“[T]he preponderance of evidence supports the recommendation that the AHA should elevate depression to the status of a risk factor for adverse medical outcomes in patients with ACS,” the authors concluded.

Panel members Robert M. Carney, PhD, and Kenneth E. Freedland, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a press release that soon there will be research under way to determine whether treating depression differently potentially could improve heart health.