Blues may send cardiac patients back to hospitals

Heart attack patients given to depression may be re-hospitalised later for cardiac complications and chest pains and for longer stints as indoor patients than their happier counterparts.

Vicki Myers of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, along with Yariv Gerber and other researchers examined the link between depressive symptoms in the heart attack patients and their  re-hospitalisation a decade after the initial attack.

Most studies examining the link between heart attack recovery and mental health have only included short term follow up, says Myers, the Journal of Psychosomatic Research reports.

According to the Tel Aviv statement, researchers used data from 632 heart attack patients under 65 years, hospitalised between 1992 and 1993, comparing their recoveries using follow-up data through 2005.

Although a large percentage who survive a heart attack will be re-hospitalised at some point, those identified as at least “mildly depressed” during their first hospital stay were more likely to be re-hospitalised later with further cardiac health problems.

Patients with a higher depression point spent 14 percent more time in the hospital than those with a low point.

“The message is that doctors cannot ignore psychological factors in patients who have had a heart attack. Patients who exhibit signs of depression need to be followed more closely, and may need extra help in following lifestyle recommendations. Ignoring this problem weighs heavily on health services,” Myers adds.

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