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Depression Can Hamper Heart Recovery September 18, 2009

FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Erica C. Cline at 706/828-2225.

Depression can hamper heart recovery

Sept. 16, 2009 (AUGUSTA, GA) – Depression is a major stumbling block in cardiac care. Those who suffer from depression are more likely to have a heart attack, and 15-20 percent of those who’ve had a heart attack get depressed.

That’s the statistic from the American Heart Association, which last year began recommending that all heart-disease patients be screened for depression.

Victoria Burt, a nurse practitioner with University Hospital’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Program, said depression is common for those with heart problems.

“It’s believed that certain emotional problems develop because of the uncertainty of their situation,” Ms. Burt said, “or because they might be unable to do simple tasks without becoming overly tired.”

Ms. Burt suggested heart patients consult with their cardiologist or their primary care physician if they think they might be depressed.

“When depression negatively affects a person’s life – meaning they have difficulty with their daily routine or relationships, are socially withdrawn and have an increase of negative thoughts, they need to seek medical help,” she said.

Here are some tips to patients can take:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Get up and get dressed every day
  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet
  • Get some form of exercise every day

Ms. Burt noted that University’s Cardiac Rehab Program offers a varied program that takes a patient’s mental state into consideration during the rehabilitation process.

“In our program, in addition to supervised exercise, we have classes on stress management and the Five Circles of Health, which helps with coping,” she said. “We also try to get patients to avoid negative coping habits, such as smoking, excessive alcohol use and overeating.”

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