One in five patients hospitalized for heart attack experiences a major depression

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Researchers at Johns Hopkins' Evidenced-Based Practice Center have found that one in five patients hospitalized for heart attack experiences a major depression.

According to the Hopkins cardiologists who conducted the study, these depressed patients are 50 percent more likely than other heart attack patients to need hospital care for a heart problem again within a year and three times as likely to die from a future attack or other heart-related conditions.

"Although there is not much time to do a full psychiatric assessment of heart attack patients in the hospital, it is important to evaluate for depression because of the impact on the patient's quality of life and future medical health," says study co-lead author and cardiologist David Bush, M.D., an associate professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute. He acknowledges that it can be really hard to tell who is most likely to get depressed because the average patient is recuperating and ready to go home from the hospital after 72 hours, and many symptoms of depression develop later.

Co-lead study author and fellow Hopkins cardiologist Roy Ziegelstein, M.D., describes depression after heart attack as a complex interaction of neural hormones, biological changes and sensory perceptions that medicine has only begun to study and explain. "It is far more complex an issue than just being sad or feeling blue for a short period," he says. "What we're talking about here is a serious illness."

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