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According to new research presented by Professor Pranas Serpytis from Luthania at the Acute Cardiovascular Care 2014 event, women more than men are at higher risk for suffering from depression and anxiety following a heart attack.
Involved in the study were 160 patients who had suffered a myocardial infarction, with focus on the impact of gender and risk of heart disease as related to the development of depression and/or anxiety.
In the most recent statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDP), roughly 720,000 adults suffer heart attacks annually in the United States. A heart attack happens when there is a compromise in the flow of oxygen rich blood going to a part of the heart muscle becomes blocked. With this, oxygen is prevented from reaching that part of the heart, causing the heart muscle to die.
All of the participants of the study were admitted to the Vilnius University Hospital Santariskiu Clinics in Lithuania and for one month after having a heart attack, interviewed to gather specific data such as demographics, history of mental health disorders, clinical characteristics, and risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers found that depression was a problem for nearly 25% of those patients and of those, about 28.2% had been treated with antidepressants. The study also revealed that more than men, women had a higher risk of developing depression and/or anxiety subsequent to a heart attack.
Professor Serpytis explained that people who struggle with depression are six times more likely to die within six months after a heart attack than people without depression. In addition, this increased risk persists for up to 18 months. Unfortunately, while depression following a heart attack is relatively common, it often goes undiagnosed and thereby untreated.
The obvious first step is prevention by following a healthy diet and exercise regimen but also seeking professional help when symptoms of depression and/or anxiety first appear.
Although many people feel embarrassed or ashamed when facing mental health issues, experts strongly agree that a healthy lifestyle coupled with quick intervention, especially for women, are the keys to living a long and productive life.