The relationship between depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular outcomes in patients with acute coronary syndromes
Jeff C Huffman1, Christopher M Celano1, James L Januzzi2
1Department of Psychiatry, 2Department of Cardiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA USA
Abstract: Depression and anxiety occur at high rates among patients suffering an acute coronary syndrome (ACS). Both depressive symptoms and anxiety appear to adversely affect in-hospital and long term cardiac outcomes of post-ACS patients, independent of traditional risk factors. Despite their high prevalence and serious impact, mood and anxiety symptoms go unrecognized and untreated in most ACS patients and such symptoms (rather than being transient reactions to ACS) persist for months and beyond. The mechanisms by which depression and anxiety are linked to these negative medical outcomes are likely a combination of the effects of these conditions on inflammation, catecholamines, heart rate variability, and endothelial function, along with effects on health-promoting behavior. Fortunately, standard treatments for these disorders appear to be safe, well-tolerated and efficacious in this population; indeed, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may actually improve cardiac outcomes. Future research goals include gaining a better understanding of the combined effects of depression and anxiety, as well as definitive prospective studies of the impact of treatment on cardiac outcomes. Clinically, protocols that allow for efficient and systematic screening, evaluation, and treatment for depression and anxiety in cardiac patients are critical to help patients avoid the devastating effects of these illnesses on quality of life and cardiac health.
Keywords: acute coronary syndrome, anxiety, anxiety disorders, depression, myocardial infarction, unstable angina
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