Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Depression predicts heart rhythm abnormalities in heart attack patients


Duke University Medical Center investigators have found a strong association between depression and the incidence of irregular and rapid beating of the heart’s main pumping chambers in patients who have been hospitalized for a heart attack. This finding is important, the researchers said, because this heart beat irregularity, known as ventricular tachycardia, can be a precursor of sudden cardiac death .

Interestingly, the researchers found this association between depression and ventricular tachycardia in patients who were relatively healthy and that the risk of ventricular tachycardia increased with increased levels of depression. The researchers also found a link between anxiety and ventricular tachycardia.

Based on the results of their study, the researchers believe that hospitalized heart attack patients should be evaluated for depression, and those who are found to be clinically depressed should have their heart activity closely monitored.

Ventricular tachycardia, which can be treated with such drugs as beta blockers, occurs whenever ventricles beat more than 100 times in a minute. In some cases, the tachycardia may only last for a few beats; however sustained periods of tachycardia can cause ventricular damage needing immediate attention.

Duke research assistant Patrick Smith presented the results of the Duke analysis March 5, 2005, at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society in Vancouver. The research was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

"The results of our analysis showed that depression in patients who have been hospitalized for a heart attack can be a significant predictor of ventricular tachycardia," Smith said. "Also, the finding that scores from commonly used tests of depression and anxiety were associated with the frequency of ventricular tachycardia suggests that depression, anxiety and these potentially life-threatening dysrhythmias are connected."

For the study, the team followed 72 patients admitted to Duke University Hospital with a heart attack. Patients were interviewed by a mental health provider and given standardized tests for depression and anxiety within three days of admission. All patients were then connected to a heart monitor that recorded detailed heart beat information continuously over a 24-hour period.

"We found that almost one in five (18 percent) patients met the criteria for clinical depression," Smith said. "Of those patients deemed to be clinically depressed, 38 percent had at least one episode of ventricular tachycardia, compared to only 10 percent for the non-depressed patients. We also found a strong correlation between the severity of the depression and the number of beats of ventricular tachycardia."

Specifically, the researchers found that based on scores from the commonly used Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), going from a non-depressed state to mild depression conferred an 81 percent higher risk of suffering from ventricular tachycardia.

"We were surprised that we saw such a strong association between depression and ventricular tachycardia in these patients, who were among the ’healthiest’ of heart attack patients," said senior researcher Lana Watkins, Ph.D. "We excluded patients whose left ventricle – the main pumping chamber -- was pumping at less than 30 percent of its capacity.

"Given that we saw such a strong association in a relatively healthy population of heart attack patients suggest that depression can be a useful clinical predictor of ventricular tachycardia," she said.

While the researchers cannot determine whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between depression and ventricular tachycardia, it is known that depression has been linked to activation of the immune system, as well as alteration of the aggregation properties of blood platelets. Depression has also been linked to other such cardiovascular risk factors as insulin resistance, hypertension, obesity, increased cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse and physical inactivity.

The current study is an analysis of a subgroup of patients enrolled in an ongoing investigation led by Watkins that could provide insights into the effects of depression and stress on heart rate variability. Patients whose hearts are unable to appropriately regulate their beating action in response to outside stimuli – such as stress and anxiety – are known to be at higher risk of suffering a heart attack, the researchers said. The researchers hope correlate the clinical data obtained from portable heart monitors worn 24 hours a day with everyday stressors as recorded in a diary.

"I think primary care physicians, as well as cardiologists, are beginning to appreciate the role of psychosocial factors in the coronary artery disease," said Watkins. "What is needed is more of an understanding of the pathophysiology of this association between depression and coronary artery disease. With that information, we can then determine whether or not treating the depression in this group of patients can actually improve mortality."

She said that depressed heart attack patients should have their heart rhythm monitored closely, since medical approaches to treating depression can often take weeks to be effective.

Other Duke colleagues on the study included James Blumenthal, Ph.D., Michael Babyak, Ph.D., Anastasia Georgiades, Ph.D., Andrew Sherwood, Ph.D., Amy Keeler, and Michael Sketch, M.D., and Ranga Krishnan, M.D.

Richard Merritt | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>