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Treatment of depression before any apparent signs of cardiovascular disease can decrease the risk of future heart attacks and strokes by almost half.
“Previous studies we and other have conducted indicate that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But past depression treatment studies involving cardiac patients have not shown the anticipated cardiovascular benefits so we asked ourselves, what if we treated depression before the onset of cardiovascular disease? Could that cut the risk of heart attack and stroke? Our results suggest that the answer is yes,” noted Dr. Jesse C. Stewart, PhD, associate professor of psychology in the School of Science at IUPUI and affiliated scientist of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research.
The research followed 235 clinically depressed patients who were randomly assigned to standard care or a program involving antidepressants and psychotherapy. Among the 168 patients with no history of cardiovascular disease, those who received medication and therapy had a 48% lower risk of heart attack or stroke over the next 8 years than the standard care group. Collaborative care had no effect on the risk factor for the 67 patients who had identified cardiovascular disease.
“Lifestyle changes – such as stopping smoking – and blood pressure and cholesterol medications are important approaches to decreasing risk of heart attacks and strokes. Our findings, if confirmed in a larger clinical trial, could provide an important new approach – depression treatment – to preventing cardiovascular events,” explained Dr. Stewart.
“In the near future, depression treatment may play an important role in reducing disability and death due to cardiovascular disease,” concluded Dr. Stewart.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Psychosomatic Medicine
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