Why Heart Failure Victims May Need Depression Screening



Depression effects millions of people every year, and can be very difficult to battle. For people with terminal illness, depression is common – and may even contribute to worsening health. But between medical treatments, surgeries and bed rest, mental health is often the last thing on the minds of those involved.

But treating depression is important for everyone who has it – from otherwise healthy young adults to people in hospice. A recent study specifically states that people diagnosed with heart failure need to be screened for signs and symptoms of depression and offered resources.

The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology, suggested that heart failure patients might be more likely to die within a year if they have depression. While the study did say there are several factors likely to influence the findings, it also concluded that managing depression is vital for heart failure patients. Professor John Cleland, one of the lead authors of the study, stated that despite heart disease reaching epidemic levels that doctors and specialists are focusing too much on finding medicines and operations, when they should be looking at the big picture.

During the study, the research team assessed 96 patients with heart failure to determine whether or not they had depression. The team found that patients who showed signs of moderate to severe depression were more likely to have died in the 300 days that followed. Although this risk has been shown before, scientists believed it was due to the symptoms of depression such as lack of motivation to take medications or ask for help when needed.

Julie Ward of the British Heart Foundation stated that depression is both a risk factor for serious illness – including heart disease – and that patients who have already experienced cardiovascular issues often develop it. The key, she believed, is to encourage doctors to treat every patient’s physical and psychological symptoms equally. When using interdisciplinary approaches, patients receive more attention and perhaps more success in their care.

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