Depression is an independent risk factor for increased postmyocardial infarction morbidity and mortality, even after controlling for the extent of coronary artery disease, infarct size, and the severity of left ventricular dysfunction. This risk factor takes on added significance when one considers that almost half of patients recovering from a myocardial infarction have major or minor depression and that major depression alone occurs in about one in five of these individuals. Despite the well-documented risk of depression, questions remain about the mechanism of the relationship between mood disturbance and adverse outcome. The link may be explained by an association with lower levels of social support, poor adherence to recommended medical therapy and lifestyle changes intended to reduce the risk of subsequent cardiac events, disturbances in autonomic tone, enhanced platelet activation and aggregation, and systemic immune activation. Unfortunately, questions about the pathophysiologic mechanism of depression in this setting are paralleled by uncertainties about the optimal treatment of depression for patients recovering from a myocardial infarction and by a lack of knowledge about whether treating depression lowers the associated increased mortality risk. Ongoing research studies will help to determine the benefits of psychosocial interventions and of antidepressant therapy for patients soon after myocardial infarction. Although the identification of depression as a risk factor may by itself be a reason to incorporate a comprehensive psychological evaluation into the routine care of patients with myocardial infarction, this practice should certainly become standard if studies show that treating depression reduces the increased mortality risk of these patients.
- Myocardial infarction
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine