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Antidepressants May Help Some Heart Patients

Emotional stress can harm cardiovascular health, experts say, so boosting mental resilience may be key

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Two experts said the study findings weren't surprising, given emotional stress' known role in cardiovascular woes.

"We have known that heart disease symptoms can occur from more than just physical stress like exercise, but also emotional stress as well," said Dr. Lawrence Phillips, an assistant professor of medicine in the division of cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City. "This study demonstrates that medication therapy to reduce emotional stress can decrease the risk of heart damage."

In fact, "when speaking to patients about a symptom of chest pain, physicians will typically ask them if the chest pain is brought on by exercise or by emotional stress," Phillips added. "Many of the interventions we work on address the physical stress portion. This study reminds us of the importance of treating the emotional stress and treating the patient as a whole."

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She agreed that emotional stressors are a piece of the puzzle in treating heart patients.

"With this data, it is important to evaluate patients for anxiety, depression and mental stress as part of the heart health paradigm, as not treating these psychological markers may worsen their disease," she said.

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