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Depression in Heart Failure Patients Ups Death Risk

Did you know depression can aggravate heart conditions? According to a recent study, heart failure patients who are diagnosed with moderate to severe depression are five times more likely to have increased death risk compared to those with mild depression or none at all. Researchers also noted that around 20 percent to 40 percent of patients with heart failure are diagnosed with depression. These findings were made in accordance with an observational study, which was intended to predict or assess the likelihood of readmission or death among patients with heart failure.

Prof. John Cleland of Imperial College London and the University of Hull explained that this research seeks to provide a more holistic approach, compared to previous studies, in establishing predictors for readmission or death risks in heart failure patients.

“Patients with heart failure are at high risk of recurrent hospital admissions and death,” he said. “Approximately 25 percent of patients admitted to hospital with heart failure are readmitted for a variety of reasons within one month. Within one year, most patients will have had one or more readmissions and almost half will have died.”

Heart failure is a serious, life-threatening condition, which results when the heart fails or becomes unable to pump enough blood and oxygen to the rest of the body. It is estimated that about 26 million people around the world struggle with this heart disorder. The survival rates, however, are very dismal, recording at levels worse than that for prostate, breast or bowel cancer.

“Depression has been reported to predict death in patients with heart failure,” Prof. Cleland added, “but until now it was thought that this could be because depressed patients have more severe heart failure and more comorbidities.”

For this study, 154 patients with heart failure were asked to answer a Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire. The results revealed that around 103 patients were not depressed, 27 were experiencing mild depression and 24 struggled with moderate to severe depression. In addition, the researchers followed the study participants for about 300 days, during which time 27 patients died.

Based on the study outcomes, the researchers concluded that moderate to severe depression contributed to the increased mortality risk.

“We know that depression is common in heart failure and affects 20-40% of patients," he adds. "Depression is often related to loss of motivation, loss of interest in everyday activities, lower quality of life, loss of confidence, sleep disturbances and change in appetite with corresponding weight change,” Prof. Cleland stated. “This could explain the association we found between depression and mortality.”

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