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Depression Care in Hospital May Improve Cardiac Outcomes

Initiating depression intervention during admission improves medical outcomes six months later

THURSDAY, March 10 (HealthDay News) -- Among patients with depression and cardiac illness, managing depression during hospitalization improves mental health outcomes and may also improve medical outcomes after intervention, according to a study published online March 8 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Jeff C. Huffman, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues investigated the effects of a collaborative-care depression management program initiated during hospitalization. Patients with depression who were admitted for acute coronary syndrome, arrhythmia, or heart failure were randomized to a low-intensity, 12-week program (90 patients) or to usual care (85 patients). The patients' mental health and medical outcomes were evaluated at six weeks, 12 weeks, and six months.

The researchers found patients who received intervention had significantly greater improvements in mental health outcomes, including improvement of depressive symptoms, higher rates of depression response, lower scores for cognitive symptoms of depression, less anxiety, and improved mental health-related quality of life at six and 12 weeks compared to patients receiving usual care. The improvements waned, however, when the intervention ended. At six months, patients who had participated in the collaborative-care program had significantly fewer and less-intense cardiac symptoms, and greater self-reported adherence to medications.

"These results may represent a substantial first step in the systematic treatment of depression in hospitalized cardiac patients, a population for whom depression is independently associated with cardiac morbidity and mortality, and effective therapy remains greatly under-realized," the authors write.

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