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Heart Disease Health Center

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Women More Depressed After a Heart Attack

Few Women Treated for Depression in the Year Following a Heart Attack

WebMD Health News

Feb. 17, 2005 - Women are more prone to depression after a heart attack than men, yet few receive treatment with antidepressants, according to a new study.

Researchers found that women experienced more symptoms of depression in the year following a heart attack or chest pains, but only 5% of both male and female heart attack patients take antidepressants.

Previous studies have shown that depression is common among people with heart disease and increases the risk of death.

Depression-Heart Disease Link Stronger in Women

In this study, Canadian researchers looked at the prevalence of depression in the year following a heart attack among a group of 323 women and 590 men treated for chest pain or a heart attack.

The results were presented this week at the American Heart Association's Second International Conference on Women, Heart Disease and Stroke, in Orlando, Fla.

The study showed that women experienced significantly more symptoms of depression than men throughout the first year of recovery after a heart attack. Overall, only 5% of the men and women were taking antidepressants and 20% attended cardiac rehabilitation.

Researchers found that attending cardiac rehabilitation did not have an effect on depressive symptoms over time. However, more men than women attended cardiac rehabilitation, and those women who did attend were much more depressed than women who did not.

The study showed that depressive symptoms decreased over time during the recovery period, but more than one-fifth of the participants still experienced higher-than-normal levels of depressive symptoms one year later.

Researchers say the results suggest that women with heart disease may seek out the social support that may be provided by cardiac rehabilitation, but cardiac rehabilitation did not appear effective in reducing symptoms of depression.

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