Columbia University Medical Center

Clinical Trial Offers Evidence That Treating Depression May Prevent Heart Disease Recurrence

NEW YORK (April 12, 2010) – A new randomized control trial that examined 157 patients across five hospital sites indicates that, in people who had suffered cardiac events, it might be possible to help prevent future heart disease by treating their depressive symptoms.

The intervention that was tested included patient choice of psychotherapy and/or pharmacotherapy; a form of psychotherapy called problem-solving therapy; and a “stepped care” approach in which symptom severity was reviewed every eight weeks and treatment was augmented accordingly. Enhanced models of depression treatment that consider patient preference and many depression intervention options may offer an effective approach to treat depressive symptoms and improve cardiac prognosis, researchers found.

Karina Davidson, Ph.D.
The study was led by Karina Davidson, Ph.D., the Herbert Irving Associate Professor of Medicine & Psychiatry and director of the Center for Behavioral Cardiovascular Health at Columbia University Medical Center, along with many of her colleagues at Columbia. Although this new finding is potentially very exciting, larger trials to determine the best way to manage depression and treat coronary heart disease need to be launched, according to the conclusions published in the lead article of the most recent Archives of Internal Medicine.

“In light of the damaging impact of depression on quality of life and prognosis in cardiac patients, rates of detection and effective treatment for depression remain unacceptably low in cardiac patient populations,” Dr. Davidson said. “It was in this spirit that the trial was undertaken, and our team owes much to the National Institutes of Health for recognizing the potential causal nexus between depression and heart disease, and for funding both this first trial, and a larger trial based on these findings through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Grand Opportunities ‘GO’Grant program.”

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Grant #HC25197.

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