The American Heart Association reports that while an estimated 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and older acknowledge depression, up to 33 percent of heart attack patients develop some degree of depression.
Dr. Michelle Riba, professor of psychiatry and associate chair for U-M’s Integrated Medical and Psychiatric Services in the Department of Psychiatry and associate director of the U-M Comprehensive Depression Center, takes it a step further: “It’s very complicated,” she says, noting that “almost every major cardiac condition has psychological issues that need to be addressed.” Monitoring a heart patient’s mental health is just as important as treating his or her physical condition, she says.
It gets even more complicated, says Dr. Riba, because not only can cardiovascular disease lead to depression, but also depression can lead to cardiovascular disease. “It’s bidirectional.”
According to research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, persistent depression may double the risk of stroke in adults over 50. What’s more, new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes (American Heart Association journal) reports that the combination of stress and depression can significantly increase a heart patient’s risk of death or heart attack. Continue reading