Antidepressants cut cardiac mortality risk

Antidepressant treatment reduces cardiac mortality risk in depressed patients following a cardiac event, a US study has found.

Previous research has shown that depressed patients are at greater mortality risk following acute coronary syndrome (ACS) because they do not recover normal heart rate variability.

For the study, the researchers assigned 290 patients with major depression following ACS to 24 weeks of treatment either with the antidepressant sertraline, or placebo. After 16 weeks of treatment, heart rate variability had improved by 9 per cent in those taking the antidepressant and had deteriorated by a further 10 per cent in those taking placebo.

An average improvement of 28-33 per cent has been observed in previous studies in non-depressed patients over the same period.

The researchers concluded that major depression following ACS should be treated aggressively to reduce cardiac mortality.

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