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Depression screening becomes part of treatment for cardiac patients

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Diet, exercise and smoking cessation are all important factors in recovery after a heart attack. But mental health is increasingly part of the treatment plan as well. As Maiken Scott reports from WHYY’s Behavioral Health Desk – one area hospital is now screening heart patients for depression:

Scientists have long documented a strong connection between heart disease and depression: people with depression are more likely to suffer heart attacks, and heart disease can also cause depression.

Heart-attack patients entering into a 12 week program at Einstein’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in Philadelphia are now screened for depression. Vincent Figueredo is co-director of the center. He says addressing depression as part of cardiac care improves outcomes for patients:

Figueredo: “There is more and more data in the literature suggesting the benefit of treating things such as depression with stress management and cardiac rehab and this is resulting in decreases in the depression as well decreases in future heart attacks and improvement of survival.”

Drexel University cardiologist Dr. Howard Eisen says it’s important for his field to embrace mental health treatments:

Eisen: “Psychological rehabilitation along with physical rehabilitation is crucial for these patients, and I think that we should all be doing this, and probably should be gauging this in all of our patients with heart disease, even before they develop an acute event.”

Eisen says future cardiologists should be trained to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression.

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