Depression after bypass surgery linked to later problems

Patients who are depressed one month after undergoing bypass surgery are more likely to have chest pain and other cardiac problems five years after the surgery, says new research.

This finding, published in the November-December issue Psychosomatics, was more pronounced in men than in women.

"Previous research suggests that one-third of coronary artery bypass patients are depressed at some point shortly after surgery and that depression leads to poorer outcomes," says lead author Louis Borowicz Jr., M.S., of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. "Our findings suggest specifically that depression one month after coronary bypass surgery is an important risk factor for continued cardiac problems, especially angina."

Therefore, the researchers suggest, long-term outcomes after coronary artery bypass surgery might be enhanced if patients were evaluated for depression one month after surgery and if needed depression treatment was provided.

For the study, 172 patients were interviewed before coronary artery bypass grafting and again at one month, one year and five years post-surgery. At each point, the researchers used a standard questionnaire to assess the study participants' level of depression and obtained detailed medical histories. Five years after surgery, data for 117 of the original 172 patients were available for analysis.

The researchers found that 32 percent of the patients were depressed before surgery, 28 percent were depressed one month after surgery, 21 percent were depressed one year after surgery, and 16 percent were depressed five years after surgery.

Higher depression scores at all four points were associated with cardiac chest pain at year five, with the strongest association found at one month after surgery. The association between depression and cardiac problems existed even when demographic, medical and surgical factors were controlled.

Unexpectedly, the researchers found a strong relations

Contact: Trent Stockton
Center for the Advancement of Health

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