Heart patients taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs ae significantly less likely to develop depression than those who do not, a study finds.
The study, reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, compared hundreds of heart disease patients who were on statins with others who were not. Researchers found the patients who took statins were 38 percent less likely to develop depression than patients who did not.
"This would suggest that statins may have some kind of long-term protective effect against depression, perhaps by helping to prevent atherosclerosis in the brain, which can contribute to depressive symptoms," said study author Dr. Mary Whooley, a physician at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and a professor at the University of California-San Francisco.
Whooley noted that it’s possible patients who take statins "are just healthier overall than those who don't, and somehow we're not accounting for that in our analysis, even though we adjusted for factors such as smoking, physical activity and cholesterol levels."
But if statins are proven in follow-up studies to protect against depression, Whooley said they could be used to reduce the burden of depressive symptoms in patients with heart disease, which could improve their recovery.