Tags: heart | attack | spouse | risk

Depression Often Hits Heart Patient Spouses

Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 10:00 AM


Spouses of people who suffer a sudden heart attack have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, or even suicide after the event, even if their partner survives, new research shows.
The study, published online in the European Heart Journal, found the depression risk among husbands and wives of heart patients is significantly greater than the spouses of people who die from, or survive, other health conditions.
What’s more, men are more susceptible to depression and suicide after their wife's survival or death from heart attack than women.
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"This is a major public health issue for which there seems to be very little awareness among doctors and policy makers,” said lead researcher Dr. Emil Fosbøl. “I think the most important finding of this study is that the system needs to consider the care needs for spouses too, not only when a patient dies from [heart attack], but also when the patient is 'just' admitted to hospital…and survives."
Fosbøl, a Copenhagen cardiologist who conducted the study as a cardiology research fellow at Duke University Medical, the findings are based on a comparison of 16,506 spouses of people who died from heart attacks between 1997 and 2008 and another 49,518 spouses of people who died from causes unrelated to heart problems. They also matched 44,566 spouses of patients who suffered a non-fatal heart attack with 131,563 spouses of people admitted to hospital for a non-fatal condition unrelated to hear problems.
Researchers tracked the use of antidepressants and benzodiazepines (used for treating anxiety) before and up to a year after the event, records of contact with the health system for depression, and suicide.
"We found that more than three times the number of people whose spouses died from [a heart attack] were using antidepressants in the year after the event compared with the year before. In addition, nearly 50 times as many spouses used a benzodiazepine after the event compared to before,” Fosbøl said.
“Those whose spouse survived a [heart attack] had a 17 percent higher use of antidepressants…compared to those of patients with other conditions."
More than seven million people suffer a heart attack each year. About 16 percent die within a month. Researchers said the findings highlight the need for clinicians to identify spouses at risk and screen for depression and grief counseling.
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Spouses of people who suffer a sudden heart attack have a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicide.
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2012-00-23
Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 10:00 AM
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