The Link Between Depression and Cardiovascular Disease

While many patients recovering from a heart attack are focused on adopting a new diet, becoming more physically active, and properly managing medications, they often overlook their mental health and emotional wellbeing. However, research shows that depression is a common after-effect of heart attack, and one that can have serious ramifications if left untreated.

Heart and Depression

According to the American Heart Association, up to one-third of patients experience symptoms of depression after a heart attack. Women, patients with preexisting depression, and people who feel socially isolated have an even higher chance of developing depression after a coronary incident.

Depression may also be a risk factor for heart disease, even in people with otherwise healthy cardiovascular systems. This may be partially due to the autonomic nervous system, which regulates heart rate and breathing. In people with depression, the functioning of this system may be disrupted, affecting the health of the heart.

Signs of depression include feelings of hopelessness, persistent sadness, and disinterest in formerly enjoyable activities. If you notice this behavior in yourself or a loved one after a heart attack, notify a physician, who will ask several diagnostic questions to determine whether a referral to a mental health professional is in order.

Treatment for depression may involve a combination of medication and therapy. Patients on antidepressants may have fewer cardiovascular complications than those who do not use medicinal treatment for depression. Psychotherapy may also be beneficial and often includes stress management techniques and encouraging the patient to reach out for emotional support.

The HeartCare Institute at Riverside Community Hospital is dedicated to quickly and effectively treating a variety of cardiovascular conditions. With Level II accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers, a Rapid Response AMI Program, and STEMI-receiving capabilities, we promote positive outcomes and peace of mind. Call (951) 788-3000 or contact us online today for more information on our services.

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