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Stanford Study of Antidepressants and Heart Risk

July 5th 2005


PINON HILLS, CA - It may benefit patients with depression who have suffered a heart attack to take antidepressant medication.  This is according to a study at the Stanford University Medical Center.  The use of antidepressants may reduce the threat of another heart attack.

The study is being published in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.  The lead author C. Barr Taylor, MD said  “Our study provides much stronger evidence than we’ve ever had before that antidepressants are safe and may benefit these patients.”  Dr. Taylor is professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford.  The study was conducted by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. 

During the study researchers used several antidepressants.  The median duration of antidepressant use was 12 months for both groups. Participants were more likely to take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Zoloft, instead of tricyclics or other types.


After analyzing the data, the researchers found that 26 percent of study participants who hadn’t received antidepressants died or had a recurrent heart attack, while 21 percent of those participants who had taken antidepressants at some point died or had a recurrent event. After adjusting for baseline depression and cardiac risk, SSRI use was associated with 43 percent lower risk of death or recurrent non-fatal heart attack , and 43 percent lower risk of death from all causes.

Researchers launched the ENRICHD (ENhancing Recovery In Coronary Heart Disease) initially to determine if cognitive behavioral therapy could help heart attack patients.  The results were promising, so the study was extended to research the benefits of antidepressants. 

Robert F. DeBusk, MD, professor of medicine, served as principal investigator at the Stanford site.  The authors noted that the results of the study show a need for a prospective, randomized trial on the safety and benefit of antidepressants in this population.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.  Some of the main predictors for heart disease and stroke (also known collectively as cardiovascular disease) are thick waists, cigarette smoking in women, high systolic blood pressure (upper number) and blood sugar levels in men. 

Many experts recommend an aspirin a day, exercise, and healthy eating.  Ideally, according to medformation.com individuals should exercise at least 3 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes aerobically.  Of course you should consult your doctor before beginning an exercise regimen. 


By Dan Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Sunday, July 11, 2010 01:18 AM