A new study reveals that depression may increase the risk of death among heart failure patients.
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The study, which was led by John Cleland, a professor of cardiology at Imperial College London, focused on patients dealing with significant heart problems. Just over 100 patients reported not being depressed, while another 27 were dealing with mild depression and another 24 reported experiencing moderate to severe depression. The researchers then studied all of these patients over a 302-day period.
During that time about 27 patients died. Researchers found that those patients with moderate to severe depression were five times more likely to die than patients with no or mild depression.
How can we explain this link? The researchers behind the study say it may be related to depression’s links with loss of motivation and loss of interest in everyday activities. These factors can disrupt sleep, lower appetite, and cause weight changes.
“This could explain the association we found between depression and mortality,” Cleland said.
“Our results show that depression is strongly associated with death during the year following discharge from hospital after an admission for the exacerbation of heart failure; we expect that the link persists beyond one year,” added Cleland, whose research was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Heart Failure Association in Seville, Spain.
The study could result in physicians paying more attention to the mental health of their heart failure patients. Of course, given the study’s small size (less than 200 patients were involved) it’s clear more research has to be done in order to firm up a potential link between depression and risk of death.