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Depression raises risk of cardiac arrest

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Thursday, February 2, 2006

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Even in patients without risk factors for heart disease, depression seems to increase the odds of suffering cardiac arrest, in which the heart suddenly stops beating properly, new research suggests.

“The association of depression with … heart disease-related (death) has been widely recognized,” Dr. J. P. Empana and colleagues write in the Archives of Internal Medicine. “This finding may partly reflect an association between depression and sudden death, in part because (of nervous system imbalances) in depressed subjects.”

To further explore this issue, the researchers at Hopital Paul Brousse, Villejuif, France, and other centers analyzed data from subjects enrolled in a health maintenance organization in western Washington state. The study included 2228 people who suffered cardiac arrest between January 1980 and December 1994, and 4164 similar comparison subjects who were not affected.

The team’s analysis showed that depressed subjects were 43 percent more likely to experience cardiac arrest than non-depressed subjects. Moreover, the link between depression and cardiac arrest was noted regardless of gender, age, or whether the patient had heart disease or not.

The severity of depression also influenced the risk of cardiac arrest. Patients with milder depression had a 30 percent increased risk of cardiac arrest, whereas those with severe depression had a 77 percent increased risk.

So how might depression predispose to cardiac arrest? The researchers believe it may have an effect on plaque build-up in arteries, the main cause of heart disease. In addition, depression may have effects on the heart rate or red blood cells that raise the risk of cardiac arrest, they note.

Also, it’s possible that depressed patients are simply less likely to take medications that could cut the risk of cardiac arrest and they may be more likely to engage in unhealthy lifestyle habits, the authors state.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, January 23, 2006.

Related MedlinePlus Pages:

* Cardiac Arrest – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/cardiacarrest.html
* Depression – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/depression.html

Date last updated: 03 February 2006

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