Thursday, March 21, 2013

Feeling anxious or depressed 'dramatically increases' the risk of dying from a heart attack

A lot of depressed people probably had good reason for it:  Poorer health.  My health problems sometimes depress me.  So the depression is a symptom, not a cause

Feeling depressed or anxious dramatically increases the chances of heart patients dying, new research suggests.

Death rates among those with heart disease who also suffer from anxiety and depression are tripled, one study found.

A separate team showed that moderate or severe depression increased the risk of death among patients with heart failure four-fold.

Almost 1,000 patients with an average age of 62 took part in the heart disease study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

All answered questions about their feelings immediately before and after an invasive hospital procedure.

Doctors used tests based on common symptoms to decide whether participants were depressed or anxious.

Among the 133 patients who died during the next three years, 55 suffered from either one or both of the conditions.

Anxiety and depression were found to influence the risk of death in different ways. High blood pressure was strongly linked to anxiety, which on its own doubled the risk of dying from any cause.

Depression was more associated with behavioural risk factors, such as smoking and not taking medication.

Previous studies have already found that depression reduces the survival of heart disease patients and triples the risk of heart attacks.

However, this may have been partly because depressed patients are likely to be anxious as well, experts believe.

'Many studies have linked depression to an increased risk of death in heart disease patients,' said lead scientist Dr Lana Watkins, from Duke University Medical Centre in Durham, North Carolina.

'It's now time for anxiety to be considered as important as depression and for it to be examined carefully.'

As well as being more likely to die, depressed patients with heart failure had double the chance of finding themselves hospitalised, the other study found.

Heart failure is a condition that causes extreme exhaustion as a result of blood not being pumped around the body efficiently.

A total of 402 men and women from the state of Minnesota with heart failure took part in a depression survey.

Based on the answers, 59 per cent were classified as having no depression, 26 per cent as having mild depression, and 15 per cent as having moderate to severe depression. The patients had an average age of 73.

Even those who reported mild depression had an almost 60 per cent increased risk of dying over the following 18 months.

Moderate to severe depression pushed up the risk four times compared with patients who were not depressed.

Only a third of the seriously depressed patients were taking medication for their condition, according to the findings published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure.

'We measured depression with a one-time questionnaire so we cannot account for changes in depression symptoms over time,' said Dr Alanna Chamberlain, from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, who led the study.

'Further research is warranted to develop more effective clinical approaches for management of depression in heart failure patients.'


Pesky! Overweight people with heart disease are 30% LESS likely to die early than their thinner counterparts

It's widely believed that being overweight is bad for your heart and can lead to premature death.

But new study shows that overweight heart disease sufferers are actually 30 per cent less likely to die early than their counterparts of a healthy weight.

The researchers, from University College London, also found that even obese cardiac patients are 15 per cent less likely to die young than those of a normal weight.

Dr Mark Hamer, the study leader, told MailOnline: ‘The most plausible reason is that the obese patient is treated more aggressively because they have more risk factors – like high cholesterol and high blood pressure – which mean that doctors prioritise them, but that is just speculation.

‘We didn’t really get to the bottom of it but it certainly shows that it is a bad idea to focus on weight – BMI is not always a good marker of health.’

He explained that it is important to look at other factors, such as exercise, because people can improve the health of their heart significantly by exercising, even if they do not lose weight.

Dr Hamer and his colleagues followed 4,400 cardiac patients who took part in the Health Survey for England and the Scottish Health Survey.

They found that less of the overweight patients died in the seven years that they were followed than did the normal weight patients.

The researchers at UCL were not the first to find that overweight heart patients had a lower chance of premature death than normal weight ones.

Dr Hamer also explained that there is some data from previous studies to support the suggestion that overweight patients receive more aggressive treatment.

Other recent research has shown that heart attack survivors who are exposed to air pollution are more likely to die young.

Experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine monitored more than 154,000 patients treated for heart attacks and angina for an average period of 3.7 years.

They found that higher levels of tiny sooty particles in the air increased death rates among survivors of acute coronary syndrome by 12 per cent.

Another recent study showed that all people who are overweight may outlive their thinner counterparts.

Men and women who are slightly plump - essentially carrying a few extra pounds - have longer lives than those of a normal weight, according to a study of more than three million people

However, those who were any bigger than this were around a third more likely to die during the months or years they were being studied than those of normal weight.


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