Repeat heart attack more likely in newly depressed patients

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The likelihood of a subsequent cardiac event was 65% higher in people diagnosed with depression than for patients without depression, according to new research.

The increase, however, was concentrated among the patients who were not depressed before they had their heart attacks, the Dutch researchers noted. They concluded that depression following a heart attack is a warning sign of future cardiac problems, but only if it's the first time the patient has been clinically depressed.

Researchers at the University Medical Center at Groningen followed 468 patients hospitalized for heart attack for an average of 2.5 years in an effort to clarify whether depression in an of itself contributes to heart attacks. While patients diagnosed with depression for the first time had a significantly higher incidence of heart attack, the rate of heart events was only 12% higher for depressed patients who also were depressed before their heart attacks.

The study report will appear in the Tuesday's issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.