While it has been commonly appreciated that patients who are depressed are more likely to fare worse after their heart attacks, the current Duke researchers said their study is one of the first to look specifically at depression as a predictor of mortality in women with coronary artery disease. Most previous studies have only included small numbers of women, they said.
Specific studies in women are important, the researchers said, since heart disease may manifest itself differently in women. Also, the study reinforces the growing appreciation that physicians who take care of heart patients need to take into account the psychosocial as well as the medical aspects of the disease.
Duke psychologist Anastasia Georgiades, Ph.D., presented the results of the Duke analysis today (March 3, 2004) at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society. The research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute.
One difference in coronary artery disease between men and women is that on average, women tend to be diagnosed an average of 10 years later than men, said the researchers.
"In our study, when we statistically controlled for the effects of age, as well as the beating capacity of the heart, depressive symptoms still remained an independent predictor of mortality," Georgiades said. "The key question that still remains to be answered is whether or not depression actually can lead to worse outcomes, or whether depression is an indicator, or marker, for some other risk factor."
For their analysis, the researchers enrolled 265 women admitted to Duke University Hospital for a diagnostic cardiac catheterization. Patients were given the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), a st
Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center