Thursday, February 02, 2006

Depression and cardiac arrest

There appears to be an association between depression and an increased risk of sudden cardiac death, independent of established coronary heart disease risk factors, the findings of a multicenter study suggest.

The analysis showed that depressed subjects were 43 percent more likely to experience cardiac arrest than non-depressed subjects. Moreover, the link between depression and cardiac arrest was noted regardless of gender, age, or whether the patient had heart disease or not. The association remained significant, suggesting that atherosclerosis may in part be implicated.

Patients with milder depression had a 30 percent increased risk of cardiac arrest, whereas those with severe depression had a 77 percent increased risk.

Poor adherence to treatment and unhealthy lifestyle habits may explain the association. Also, a decrease in heart rate variability may be a factor.

As mentioned in a previous post, a single bout of exercise can help lift depression. Another recent study indicates that attainment of personal goals (in this case, exercise goals) appears to be of particular importance for lowering depressive symptoms.

Healthcare givers should help patients set goals and develop self-management strategies to achieve those goals.

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