Saturday, March 04, 2006

Antidepressants Boost Heart Patients' Death Risk

In a surprising finding, patients with coronary artery disease who take commonly used antidepressant drugs may be at significantly higher risk of death, Duke University Medical Center researchers have found.

Researchers found that heart patients taking antidepressant medications had a 55 percent higher risk of dying. Previously, Duke researchers reported that the presence of depression is an important risk factor for heart patients. This new finding of the risk from anti-depressants raises issues about the optimal way to treat depression in cardiac patients, the researchers said.

According to Duke team leader Lana Watkins, Ph.D., the researchers believe their findings add further support for the potential role of non-pharmocological approaches to treating depression, such as exercise, in reducing the risk of death in depressed heart patients. She said that physicians caring for heart patients who are taking antidepressants should monitor patients closely. Reasons for the association are not clear.

This is an intriguing study, though a placebo-controlled study is needed to help prove causation. However, one thing we do know is that exercise is a very good mood-booster.

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