Depression warning for heart failure patients

GPs must pay more attention to depression in heart failure, according to researchers who found a four-fold increased risk of death in these patients.

Researchers found a high mortality rate among heart failure patients with depression (Photo: iStock)
Researchers found a high mortality rate among heart failure patients with depression (Photo: iStock)

Depression in heart failure patients also doubled the chance of hospitalisation or emergency admission, according to the study.

Lead author Alanna Chamberlain PhD of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota said: ‘Treatment programmes should be tailored to each patient’s needs with greater emphasis on managing depression.'

In the study, 41% of 402 patients aged around 73 suffered from depression. Only 60% of patients with severe depression survived during the 1.6 years of the study.

Depression was seen to contribute to increased smoking and alcohol use, a poor diet and low adherence to treatment.

The study also found that a third of the patients suffering from depression were taking anti-depressants, leading to concerns that ‘depression might be under-recognised and undertreated’.

These findings were not affected by the medication patients were prescribed to treat their heart failure.

The researchers stressed that these results may not apply to all heart failure patients in the US and further research is needed to ‘develop more effective clinical approaches for management of depression in heart failure patients’.

Heart failure affects nearly one million people in the UK with an annual cost of £716 million, approximately 2% of the NHS budget.

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