About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University July 11, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 39
Depression Common After Heart Attack

Researchers at Johns Hopkins' Evidenced-Based Practice Center have found that one in five patients hospitalized for heart attack experiences a major depression. According to the cardiologists who conducted the study, these depressed patients are 50 percent more likely than other heart attack patients to need hospital care for a heart problem again within a year and three times as likely to die from a future attack or other heart-related conditions.

"Although there is not much time to do a full psychiatric assessment of heart attack patients in the hospital, it is important to evaluate for depression because of the impact on the patient's quality of life and future medical health," said study co-lead author David Bush, an associate professor at the School of Medicine and its Heart Institute. He acknowledges that it can be really hard to tell who is most likely to get depressed because the average patient is recuperating and ready to go home from the hospital after 72 hours, and many symptoms of depression develop later.

Roy Ziegelstein, co-lead study author, describes depression after heart attack as a complex interaction of neural hormones, biological changes and sensory perceptions that medicine has only begun to study and explain. "It is far more complex an issue than just being sad or feeling blue for a short period," he said. "What we're talking about here is a serious illness."

The study findings are contained in "Evidence Report on Post-Myocardial Infarction Depression," a report recently released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which funded the research.


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |