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Post-heart attack anxiety and depression common in women
Posted in Mental Health - 0 Comments

anxiety and depression common in women

 

Despite women generally living longer than men, they ironically have suffered from higher rates of heart disease since 1984, according to the American Heart Association. A new study has found that women are also more likely to develop symptoms of anxiety and depression than men following a heart attack. The World Health Organization predicts that by 2020, depression will  be one of the leading causes of disability and mortality in the world, second only to heart disease. If the results of this study can be replicated, its findings could have major implications for improved mental health screenings and preventative measures in the future.

Presented at the Acute Cardiovascular Care Association of the European Society of Cardiology in Geneva, Switzerland, the study focused on 160 patients admitted to the Vilnius University Hospital Santariskiu Clinics (in Lithuania) with a myocardial infarction. The authors investigated the impact of gender and heart disease risk factors on the chances of developing depression and anxiety after a myocardial infarction (MI), interviewing the patients at least one month after their heart attack. They collected demographic information such as gender, age, education and marital status as well as clinical characteristics like incidence of diabetes, mental health/physical activity and previous history of hypertension and/or heart attacks.

Levels of anxiety and depression were assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), with a 0-7 score equaling “no depression and anxiety,” an 8-10 being “possible depression and anxiety” and 11 or higher meaning mild to moderate levels. The results revealed that the most physically inactive patients tended to be the most depressed, with a mean HADS score of 8.96 (“possible depression”). However, 64 percent of the patients with depression also said that they were not physically active.

The researchers also found that depression followed myocardial infarction (MI) in approximately 18 percent of cases and is an important predictor of disability and quality of life in the year following a heart attack. Although the duration of the patients’ depressive symptoms was not studied in the long term, the authors did find them to be at an increased risk of suicidal ideation for at least 18 months following the MI.

“Current smokers were more likely to have anxiety after an MI than never smokers or people who had quit smoking more than two years ago. We did not find any association between smoking and depression after an MI. Women are misrepresented in many clinical studies on MI even though they often have worse outcomes. Our study shows that women are more likely to develop anxiety and depression after MI than men but until now this issue has been largely unnoticed,” said Dr. Pranas Serpytis of Lithuania, lead author of the study.

Despite MI depression being relatively common, the condition remains unacknowledged and undertreated.

Preventative measures
Depression, as well as a heart attack, can at least be minimized simply by exercising and making sound diet choices. Avoiding second-hand smoke and other free-radical causing carcinogens is also a critical preventative measure; antioxidant rich foods (berries, tomatoes, beans, coffee, etc.) can go a long way in eliminating the thousands of free radicals that enter the bloodstream every day.

At Sovereign Health, we place an emphasis on nutrition and exercise, offering a multitude of therapeutic activities designed to alleviate depression and other symptoms of withdrawal. If you would like more information regarding our women’s Chandler center or our approach to treating depression in women, feel free to browse the rest of our site or contact us.

Written by Chase Beckwith, Sovereign Health Group writer

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