Heart Patients Need Screening For Depression

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The New York Sun

DALLAS — Heart patients should be regularly screened for signs of depression, the American Heart Association recommended yesterday.

Depression is about three times more common in heart attack survivors and those hospitalized with heart problems than the general population, according to the recommendations published in the journal Circulation. The authors said that only about half of heart doctors say they treat depression in their patients — and not all those diagnosed with depression are treated.

“I think we could reduce considerable suffering and improve outcomes,” by screening, a professor of nursing at the University of California, San Francisco, Erika Froelicher, said. “I know we can do more.”

While there’s no direct evidence that heart patients who are screened fare better, depression can result in poorer outcomes and a poorer quality of life, the panel said. Depressed patients may skip their medications, not change their diet or exercise, or take part in rehabilitation programs, they said.

Anyone from cardiologists to nurses to primary care doctors can and should be involved in determining whether a patient is depressed, Ms. Froelicher, who was co-chairwoman of the panel that wrote the recommendations, said.

The panel suggests that heart patients be screened by first asking two standard questions: In the past two weeks, have you had little interest or pleasure in doing things? Have you felt down, depressed or hopeless?

The New York Sun

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