Depression doubles risk of death after bypass surgery

hen examined the relationship of the depression scores with the subsequent mortality data.

During the 12-year follow-up period, 10 percent of the patients who were never depressed died, compared to 19 percent of patients who were persistently depressed, the researchers said.

"Interestingly, patients with mild depression a score between 16 and 26 before surgery and who had scores that remained high six months later had the same risks as those with moderate to severe depression before surgery," Blumenthal explained. "However, those mildly depressed patients whose scores decreased after six months were at no more risk than those who weren't depressed to begin with."

The researchers point out that, while their study demonstrated a strong association between depression and mortality, it could not determine the mechanisms involved. Although there a many theories, further studies that pinpoint the mechanism will be important to developing a successful intervention, they said.

Depression has been linked to other such cardiovascular risk factors as insulin resistance, hypertension, obesity, increased cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse and physical inactivity. The Duke researchers are currently investigating several potential mechanisms, including the effects of depression on platelet aggregation and heart rate variability.

"The overall goal of all our efforts is to improve the quality and quantity of life for patients undergoing bypass surgery," Newman said. "This study is just one part of progress toward achieving that goal."

Other members of the Duke team included Heather Lett, Michael Babyak, Ph.D., William White, Peter Smith, M.D., Daniel Mark, M.D., Robert Jones, M.D., and Joseph Mathew, M.D.


Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center

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