New Study: Examines Heart Attacks Followed By Depression And Anxiety

An overview of heart disease in the United States

In case you didn’t realize it, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Here are the general facts, as the CDC outlines them:

  • About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually.
  • Every year about 720,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 515,000 are a first heart attack and 205,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.
  • Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity.

Regarding women and heart disease, the CDC drills down a bit further:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 292,188 women in 2009—that’s 1 in every 4 female deaths. 
  • Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a “man’s disease,” around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer. 
  • About 5.8% of all white women, 7.6% of black women, and 5.6% of Mexican American women have coronary heart disease. 
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease. 

New study examines connection of depression and anxiety following a heart attack 

If you inquired of any person who experienced a heart attack, mostly likely they would share that their heart attack (myocardial infarction – MI) was a life altering event. The heart attack patient’s family members would be quick to agree with that observation. 

This week was the third annual congress of the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association of the European Society of Cardiology.  This event took place in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Professor Pranas Serpytis of Lithuania presented the results of a current study that examined the impact of gender regarding risk factors associated with developing depression and anxiety following an MI.  

Study’s parameters…

  • The study reviewed 160 patients who were admitted for an MI to the Vilnius University Hospital Santariskiu Clinics in Vilnius, Lithuania.
  • These patients were interviewed at least one month after the MI
  • Researchers determined gender, age, education and marital status
  • Researchers also gathered information about other health issues like diabetes mellitus, previous treatment for hypertension and previous heart attacks 
  • Occurrence of depression and anxiety were both assessed 

Study’s findings…

  • 25% of the patients were depressed following the heart attack
  • 28.2% of the depressed patients received treatment with antidepressants
  • Current smokers were more likely to experience anxiety following the heart attack than those who had never smoked or had quit two years previous
  • They found no association between smoking and depression following a heart attack
  • Patients who were physically inactive tended to be depressed, with 64% of patients with depression admitted they were not physically active
  • Women were more likely to develop anxiety and depression following a heart attack 

Looking forward…

Like most research more questions are generated following a review of the results. Dr. Serpytis offered that more research will need to be conducted as to why women are more likely to develop anxiety and depression post MI. Additionally, he shared with the congress:

“The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 depression will be the second leading cause of disability and mortality in the world, surpassed only by ischaemic heart disease. Major depression follows MI in approximately 18% of cases and is an important predictor of disability and poor quality of life in the year post-MI.

Patients with depression are nearly 6 times more likely to die within 6 months after an MI than those without depression. The increased risk of death in patients with depression persists up to 18 months after the MI. But despite the fact that post-MI depression is common and burdensome, the condition remains under-recognised and undertreated.”

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