MONDAY, March 5, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Depression is a major factor in poor medical outcomes for heart failure patients, says a new U.S. study.
The study, conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina, included 204 heart failure patients who were followed for an average of three years. Tests showed that 46 percent of the patients had significant symptoms of depression. During the study period, 26 percent of the patients died, and 48 percent were hospitalized at least once for their heart condition.
The researchers concluded that patients with depression were more than 50 percent likely to die or be hospitalized for their heart condition than patients who weren't depressed.
This means that, in heart failure patients, depression ranks in importance with risk factors such as high cholesterol, hypertension and even the ability of the heart to pump blood throughout the body, the study authors said.
"While many studies have linked depression to worse outcomes for patients with heart disease, there has been uncertainty about the extent to which depression is related to the adverse medical outcomes independent of known medical risk factors," study co-author James Blumenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke, said in a prepared statement.
It's not clear why heart failure patients with depression have worse outcomes. The researchers are launching a new clinical trial to further investigate depression in heart failure patients.
The study was published in the Feb. 26 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The American Heart Association has more about heart failure.