Treatment of depression in patients with heart disease

  • Steven P Roose
    Address reprint requests to Steven P. Roose, M.D., Columbia University, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Unit 98, 1051 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10032, USA
    College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
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      There is a growing body of evidence that depression significantly and adversely affects cardiovascular health. Perhaps the most prominent finding is the documented increase in mortality rate in patients with depression after myocardial infarction. The critical questions of interest to both the clinician and researcher are whether there are safe and effective treatments for depression in patients with heart disease and whether treatment of depression reduces the increased risk of cardiac morbidity and mortality. Though the data are limited and are primarily from open or comparator trials, the tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and specific psychotherapies appear to be effective for treatment of depression in patients with ischemic heart disease (IHD), and response rates are comparable to those reported in depressed patients without heart disease; however, there has been only one placebo-controlled trial to date, and therefore it is premature to come to definitive conclusions regarding the efficacy of antidepressant therapies in this patient population. With respect to safety, the TCAs are associated with documented adverse cardiovascular effects, including increases in heart rate, orthostatic hypotension, and conduction delays. Use of TCAs in patients with IHD carries a proven increased risk of cardiac morbidity and perhaps of mortality as well. The SSRIs appear to be relatively safe and effective treatment for depression in patients with comorbid IHD.


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