Home » News » Cardiac Patients Need Mental Health Care

Cardiac Patients Need Mental Health Care

cardiacA new scientific advisory asserts that heart patients are particularly vulnerable to depression and should be screened, and if necessary treated, to improve their recovery and overall health.

“Depression and heart disease seem to be very much intertwined,” said Judith H. Lichtman, co-chair of the statement and associate professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health.

“You can’t treat the heart in isolation from the patient’s mental health.”

The American Psychiatric Association has endorsed the statement—the first of its kind on the link between heart disease and depression. Some of its recommendations include:

    • Routine and frequent screening for depression in patients with chronic heart disease in a variety of settings, including the hospital, physician’s office and cardiac rehabilitation center.
    • Help for patients with positive screening results by a professional qualified to diagnose and manage treatment for depression.
    • Careful monitoring of patients to ensure adherence to their treatment plan.
    • Coordination between health care professionals treating patients with combined medical and mental health diagnoses.

While there is no evidence that screening for depression leads to improved outcomes for people with cardiovascular complications, the advisory does state that depression is linked with increased morbidity and mortality, lower rates of cardiac rehabilitation and poorer quality of life.

“By understanding the prevalence of depression and learning more about the subgroups of heart patients at particular risk of depression, we can begin to understand the best ways to recognize and treat it,” said Lichtman.

Depression is approximately three times more common in people with heart complications than in the general population and as many as 20 percent of heart patients meet the criteria for major depression. Studies suggest that younger women in particular may be at high risk.

The advisory recommends that heart patients initially be evaluated with a simple two-item assessment. If even one of the questions generates a “yes” response, it is recommended that a more in-depth screening be done with a total of nine questions.

Heart patients found to be suffering from depression can benefit from a number of treatment options, including behavioral therapy, physical activity, cardiac rehabilitation, antidepressant drugs, or combinations of these treatments.

Source: Yale University

Cardiac Patients Need Mental Health Care

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Cardiac Patients Need Mental Health Care. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.