If you survive a heart attack, you're likely going to be sent home from the hospital with some instructions on how to avoid another attack as well as some prescription medications. But there's one type of medication that you may want to avoid, if possible. In fact, according to research recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology Acute Cardiovascular Care 2018 congress, this medication could make you 66% more likely to die in the year after your heart attack than if you avoided it.
Researchers from the University of Zurich in Switzerland reviewed data from 8,911 heart attack patients who had been discharged from hospitals between March 2005 and August 2016. They found that 565 patients (6.3%) had received a certain kind of medication at discharge: antidepressants. The researchers compared the patients who received these drugs with those who didn't and found that the two groups had similar rates of stroke and repeat heart attacks, but those who had been prescribed the antidepressants were much less likely to survive the incident. Overall, mortality from all causes within the first year was 7.4% in the patients who received the antidepressants, compared to just 3.4% for those who didn't. Independent of other factors, antidepressant prescription predicted an increase in mortality odds of 66%.
Because this was an observational study, we can't say for sure that the antidepressant medications themselves caused the increase, just that they predicted it. Depression is connected to cardiovascular risk factors. However, the similar rates of cardiovascular incidents between the two groups (those who received the medications and those who didn't) certainly gives me pause.
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If you're suffering from depression, I don't want you to ignore it. Recovering from a heart attack is hard enough as it is without compounding it with untreated depression. And you should never stop taking an antidepressant without your doctor's supervision. But if you do suffer a heart attack and are sent home with an antidepressant prescription in the future, consider trying to treat the depression with natural remedies instead.
I've written before about a variety of natural methods for treating depression, so you can find more information by searching my website (www.secondopinionnewsletter.com). Your options include amino acid neurotransmitter therapy, hormone therapy, yoga, lavender oil, exercise, melatonin, and healthy lifestyle changes (these will also be essential to improving your cardiovascular health).
While a heart attack is certainly scary, survival is worth celebrating. Talk to your doctor (or find a new doctor if needed) to ensure that the tools you're using to help you feel up for celebrating aren't actually putting your life back in danger.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD