Depressed heart patients are 1.5 times as likely to die after having a coronary stent implanted as those who don’t suffer from depression, new research shows.
The study, presented at the annual Spring Meeting on Cardiovascular Nursing in Copenhagen, tracked 1,234 patients -- aged 26-90 years – for seven years after receiving a stent. About 26.3 percent of the patients were diagnosed with depression.
At the end of the study, researchers found nearly 1 in 4 of the depressed patients had died (76 out of 324 patients), compared to just 12 percent of those without depression (111 out of 910 patients).
"The main finding is that patients who are depressed after coronary stenting have a worse prognosis," said lead researcher Dr. Nikki Damen. "They die earlier than non-depressed patients."
Researchers said it’s possible depressed patients may have less healthy lifestyles with regard to smoking, drinking alcohol, physical activity, and diet than those without depression. They may also be less likely to take their medications.
Another possible explanation: Depression may alter nervous system activity, leading to increases in heart rate and blood pressure.
"Doctors and nurses have traditionally focused on medical factors like diabetes or family history of cardiovascular disease when assessing [heart] patients' risk of death, but that's not the whole picture," said Damen. "Psychological factors do matter as well, in combination with the medical factors.
"More research is needed to determine how to screen for depression in cardiovascular patients, and then how to provide treatment."