Depression after a heart attack can have serious, even deadly, consequences. However, the effect of antidepressants on outcomes has been unknown. A 300-patient study published in the July 24/31 issue of JAMA suggests that treatment with the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram (Lexapro) significantly reduced the risk of a major cardiac event. Patients who had recently suffered a major or minor heart attack were randomized to the antidepressant or placebo for 24 weeks and then followed for a median of eight years. All-cause death, deaths from heart disease, heart attacks and revascularizations with angioplasty and stenting were tracked. At the end of the study, 40.9 percent of the patients on escitalopram had met one of these outcomes, compared with 53.6 percent of those who had received the placebo. When individual outcomes were examined, the SSRI beat placebo in all measures. However, only reduction in heart attack (8.7 percent vs 15.2 percent) was statistically significant.