A team of Italian researchers has found that elderly patients who suffer from chronic heart failure and clinical depression face a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, and death. The study’s results will be presented March 25 at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in New Orleans.
19,000 subjects were included in the study. All of the subjects had chronic heart failure and were over the age of 60. Over 2400 of these patients were treated with medication for clinical depression prior to being diagnosed with heart failure. Most of the depressed patients were older women with histories of peripheral vascular disease and stroke.
Researchers found that patients with both heart failure and depression carried a significantly higher risk of death or health difficulties such as stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or heart attack, as compared with those heart-failure patients who did not have depression.
These findings underscore the need for health care providers and family members to look for signs of depression in patients with chronic heart failure.
“This trial demonstrates the critical importance of mental health monitoring for successful management of heart failure in this population,” study co-author Dr. Aldo Maggioni, of the ANMCO Research Center in Florence, said in a prepared statement.
“Effective methods to monitor and treat depression in nursing homes should be implemented to improve the quality of life for patients with heart failure,” Maggioni added.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), education is important for patients with heart failure, since it can help them to learn how to live with the condition. Heart failure may affect the left side, right side, or both sides of the heart, but it typically affects the left side first. Left-sided or left ventricular (LV) heart failure affects the left ventricle, which is the largest chamber of the heart and is therefore critical to normal heart function.
The AHA stresses the importance of exercise for both physical and mental health in patients with heart failure. Many patients are afraid to exercise after receiving a diagnosis of heart failure; they may be unaware that moderate physical activity may help strengthen the heart and improve its functioning. Physicians should help patients find the appropriate level of physical activity for their condition. If performed daily, even a small degree of physical effort can increase energy and decrease stress, as well as allow patients to participate in family and other social activities. These benefits can bring about a more positive mental attitude and contribute to the patient’s overall quality of life.
American Heart Association
Info on heart failure: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1486