A new study shows that chronic depression may increase the mortality risk in heart failure patients on the long run. According to the new findings, people affected by heart failure and severe depression had a fivefold risk of dying than those with no or episodic depression.
John Cleland, co-author of the study and heart disease expert at the Imperial College London in England, said that 20 to 40 percent of heart failure patients were also depressed. Researchers studied 154 people, among whom 51 were diagnosed with depression. Within a year, 27 of the study participants died.
Scientists argued that the high mortality risk among heart failure patients affected by depression was not linked to other health conditions or the severity of their heart disease.
The results of the research were disclosed Saturday at the Heart Failure Association of the European Society of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Spain. However, authors acknowledged that the findings were “preliminary” until published in a medical journal and properly reviewed.
Heart failure is a condition that affects nearly 5 million Americans, while doctors report 550,000 new cases every year. Studies show that the condition gets worse as the patient grows old. Aging also triggers a higher mortality rate in heart failure patients.
In heart failure, the heart doesn’t receive enough blood as the blood flow gets obstructed for various reasons. Patients report leg swelling, low energy, and shortness of breath that can wake the patient at night.
However, doctors warn that people should address a professional for a proper diagnosis since those symptoms may also occur in anemia, kidney failure, liver diseases, excessive weight gain, and thyroid problems.
Previous medical reports had shown that 25 percent of heart failure patients that end up in a hospital are hospitalized again within one month. But within one year, nearly half of those patients usually die, researchers report.
“Our results show that depression is strongly associated with death during the year following discharge from hospital after an admission for the exacerbation of heart failure,”
the authors of the new study claim.
Nevertheless, the link between depression and a high risk of death among heart failure patients persists beyond that first year. But the study didn’t find a cause-and-effect relationship between the two conditions.
However, researchers didn’t recommend giving antidepressants to patients affected by the two conditions. They said that other studies had shown antidepressants had little or no effect in reducing depression if the patient was also diagnosed with heart failure. Instead those patients should be directed to counseling, study authors suggest.
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