Be Alert for Depression After Heart Attack

 Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Following a heart attack, almost one out of two patients get depressed. To he more precise, of the 45 % of patient,S found to be depressed, 18 % of which are severely depressed and 27 % report mild to mcxierate depression. Usually the first two months following a heart attack or heart surgery are crucial to watch for the occurrence of the depression. According to a study by Montreal Heart Institute, patients report the highest level of depression between six to sixty days after the heart attack.

We all know that high cholesterol level, smoking, high blood pressure, and inactivity or lack of physical exercise are bad for heart patients. Now we know that depression al,So is a serious risk that needs to be monitored. Patients who are severely depressed in the irst sixty days have an increased risk of death or of having another heart attack in the following year. Heart attack patients with severe stress, anxiety, and depression are more likely to die of heart- related problems during the following five years when compar~ to non-anxious, non-
depressed patients.

According to the Montreal Heart Institute study, survivors of heart attack who became depressed had 3 to 4 times greater risk of dying within 6 months when compared to those who did not experience depression following a heart attack. The depressed and the non depressed heart attack survivors were similar to each other with regard to their history of past heart attacks and medication. The only difference between the two groups was the depression.

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Copyright 1996, Mind Publications 


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