Depression ups risk for heart failure

April 14, 2009 3:50:26 PM PDT
Katrina Faison is getting her body and mind back in shape at Lankenau Hospital. A year ago, she had triple bypass heart surgery. Without it, doctors say she would have had a heart attack. But even after her life was saved, like many heart patients, Katrina suffered depression."In the beginning for the first four weeks, I couldn't talk to anyone about the surgery without crying," she said.

Now a new study in the American College of Cardiology shows that depression can increase a patient's risk for heart failure by 50-percent, meaning it contributes to the heart not pumping effectively.

"It's not just the outward signs of depression we see in someone's face or actions, internally their bodies are undergoing tremendous change that can make the heart weaker over time," said cardiologist Dr. Christopher Droogan of Lankenau Hospital.

And according to the study, anti-depressants don't help prevent that weakening.

"Sometimes it's easy for us to prescribe a pill for depression but maybe there's more to it," Dr. Droogan said, adding that more has to be done to recognize depression and get heart patients help with support groups and therapy.

Katrina got help, and now says she feel like a different person.

"When I think about last year where I was at this time and where I am now, it's just unbelieveable," she said.

If you are feeling depressed, especially if you have had heart problems in the past, talk to your doctor about getting help.

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