Features October 2008 Issue

Treat Depression to Reduce Heart Complications and Stroke Risks

Tackling the emotional fallout after a heart crisis may be just as important as treating the physical symptoms.

While heart patients have benefited from advances in treatment and improved physical rehabilitation programs, adjusting to the psychological impact of heart problems is still a challenge. Depression is common in heart patients—one in five hospitalized for heart attack suffers from major depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). And new research suggests it may put patients at higher risk of further cardiac complications, as well as stroke. "The new findings highlight the real and intertwined relationship between psychological distress and traditional cardiac risk factors," says Leo Pozuelo, MD, associate director of the Bakken Heart-Brain Institute at Cleveland Clinic. "It’s clearer than ever that depression is one more part of the heart health equation that needs to be monitored."

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