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New Intermountain Study: Antidepressants Linked to Improved Cardio Health

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A new study suggests antidepressants can help not just mental health but heart health as well. Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found that treating depression helps reduce the risk for heart disease. The study is being presented this weekend at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in San Diego on Sunday.

In the first study of its kind, researchers found that depressed patients who took antidepressants had a significantly lower risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and death compared to those who did not take antidepressants. The research also indicates that for depressed patients, antidepressants may be more important than cholesterol-lowering drugs like statins when it comes to heart health. Lead author Dr. Heidi May says patients taking antidepressants alone had better cardiovascular outcomes than those taking statins alone.

“Often depression is overlooked, and some of the other more traditional risk factors are really scrutinized like hypertension, blood cholesterol levels, but I think this study adds to the literature of how important it is to screen for depression and if people are found to be depressed, to treat the depression,” Dr. May says.  

The study did not examine how antidepressants might decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, but Dr. May believes that the drugs may help spur physiological as well as behavioral changes that improve heart health.

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