SAN FRANCISCO, July 6 (Xinhua) -- About one-third of patients with heart failure who experience symptoms of anxiety and depression suffer from a higher rate of progressive heart disease and other adverse consequences, a report from the July/August issue of Harvard Review of Psychiatry said Friday.
Christopher Celano, doctor of medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and his colleagues conducted a targeted review of research on associations between heart failure, depression and anxiety.
Their studies found that one-third of heart failure patients report elevated symptoms of depression on standard questionnaires, while 19 percent meet diagnostic criteria for major depression or other depressive disorders.
"Depression has been linked to the development and progression of heart failure and other cardiovascular diseases," said the U.S. researchers in their report.
The correlations between depression and anxiety with heart failure have not been given enough recognition, and about 50 percent of 5 million Americans who suffer from the chronic, progressive disorder die within five years, they said.
About 30 percent of the patients have clinically significant anxiety symptoms, while 13 percent meet diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or panic disorder.
Celano said that sometimes it is a challenge to diagnose a psychiatric illness because there is a significant overlap between psychiatric symptoms and those related to heart failure.
As both physiological and behavioral factors may produce adverse outcomes, Celano and his team believed formal diagnostic interviews can help in assessing the cause of overlapping symptoms between heart failure and depression or anxiety.
They said psychotherapy may play a positive role in treatment, and cognitive-behavioral therapy proves to be the only type of psychotherapy that is specifically effective in treating heart failure patients.
They recommended an aggressive, multi-modal treatment approach, including collaborative care models or enhanced care from a mental health professional, in helping the high-risk population of patients grappling with psychiatric and cardiac health problems.