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Depression and Cardiac Risk: Present Status and Future Directions
  1. Nancy Frasure-Smith1,*,
  2. François Lespérance2
  1. 1 Centre Hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, Canada;
  2. 2 Montreal Heart Institute Research Center, Montreal, Canada
  1. Correspondence to: Nancy Frasure-Smith, McGill University, Department of Psychiatry, Centre Hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, 1560 Sherbrooke E, Montreal, QC, H2L 4M1, Canada; nancy.frasure-smith{at}


Since the mid 1980’s, an impressive body of epidemiological research has examined links between depression and coronary heart disease (CHD). Depression is more common in CHD patients than in those without heart disease, with ≥ 20% of hospitalized post-myocardial infarction (MI) patients meeting modified psychiatric criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD).1 While available data suggest that depression rates are lower in patients with stable CHD than in hospitalized patients, depression is still more common than in the general community. Depression is associated with increased chances of developing CHD in apparently healthy individuals. In CHD patients depression predicts cardiac admissions and death, increased health care costs and utilization of services.2;3 There is evidence of an increased cardiac risk associated with measures of depression symptoms as well as with diagnosed MDD, and of a dose-response relationship between depression severity and prognosis in CHD patients. Many plausible biological explanations have been suggested. The quantity and strength of the epidemiological data is comparable to that leading to the general acceptance of several other cardiac risk factors. Why, then, is depression not considered a major risk factor? Should it be?

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