How to Fight Depression After a Heart Attack

Exercise and quitting smoking can fight depression after heart attack

(RxWiki News) After a heart attack, taking care of your body is very important — and so is taking care of your mind.

A recent study found that exercising and quitting smoking could improve depression after a heart attack.

Heart attack patients are three times as likely to have depression as those who haven't had a heart attack, according to the authors of this study. And depression can raise the risk of another heart attack.

“Heart attack patients who smoke and are depressed are much more likely to improve their depression if they kick the habit,” said David Nanchen, MD, in a press release.

Dr. Nanchen, head of the Prevention Centre at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, led this study on depression, smoking and heart attacks.

These researchers studied 1,164 patients who had survived heart attacks. They assessed them for depression when they started the study and after one year.

“More than one-quarter of patients in our study reported symptoms of depression after their heart attack, which shows this is a big issue,” Dr. Nanchen said.

But for 11 percent of the patients, their depression had improved after one year.

Depressed patients who were more physically active at the start of the study or who had quit smoking had a greater chance of improving their depression.

Improving depression also lowers patients’ chances of having another heart attack.

“Patients who are depressed after a heart attack have a two-fold risk of having another heart attack or dying compared to those who are not depressed,” Dr. Nanchen said.

Dr. Nanchen advised heart attack patients to talk to their doctors about quitting smoking and exercising at least three times a week.

“Make sure you are working hard enough to break out in a sweat," Dr. Nanchen added. "This level of physical activity is good for your mental and physical health."

This study was published Oct. 10 in the European Heart Journal. Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day.

Information on funding sources and conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

Review Date: 
October 9, 2015