The Hidden Risk of Depression in Heart Attack Victims! – Issue 49

Dear Health-Conscious Friend,

We all want to feel better after experiencing something as life-changing as a heart attack, but what if I told you depression rates can soar in the months following such an attack? And that the incidents of death for these depressed patients are significantly higher than those who exhibited no sign of mental distress?

We at Health Resources™ believe that a healthy mind contributes greatly to a healthy body, and we strive to provide you with the best information and products to make this possible!

In today’s Monday Edition of Health News Weekly™ you’ll find out about researchers who are studying the positive effects omega-3 fatty acids may have on these heart attack patients who reported feeling depressed—plus, see why hormone replacement therapy is a leading risk for cancer in women. You’ll also learn that osteoporosis affects men as well as women, and the signs and symptoms to look for prior to a diagnosis.

For more simple and natural ways to stay healthy, let’s get started…

Depression raises death risk for
heart attack victims for years after attack

Layne Lowery

Heart attack patients experiencing depression have a higher risk for sudden death in the months following a heart attack. A team of researchers led by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found that the risk continues for many years.

Robert. M. Carney, Ph.D., lead author of the new study and professor of psychiatry at Washington University, said doctors previously thought depression was strongest for the first three-to-six months following a heart attack. They assumed these feelings decreased within a couple of years.

Carney said they now know the depression can last for at least FIVE years. And he said “there’s a two- to four-fold increase in a person’s risk of dying following a heart attack if they also happen to be depressed.”

Carney, with colleagues from Duke University Medical Center, Harvard University, Yale University, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NIH) and the Mayo Clinic, followed more than 750 heart attack patients for five years. The findings—currently available online—will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

The patients they followed had participated in the NIH-funded project Enhancing Recovery in Coronary Heart Disease Patients (ENRICHD). A little less than half were diagnosed with depression.

In the five years following a heart attack, 106 patients died. Of those, 62 had been diagnosed with depression, while 44 had not. In gauging the effects of depression, the investigators also considered other risks including age, smoking, hypertension, gender and diabetes.

Carney said that after adjusting for those risk factors, depression continued to play a statistically significant role.

Past studies differ over how much depression affects survival following a heart attack. But Carney believes the new findings are more reliable because all of the patients in this study were personally interviewed to determine their depression status. Other studies have relied solely on self-reporting.

Even with mounting evidence of a link between depression and death in heart attack patients, only about 25 to 30 percent of these patients receive antidepressant drugs or other depression treatments.

Carney said this could be because the treatments don’t work for all patients. He suggested if current depression treatments could be improved, survival rates might increase, too.

His team is also studying whether omega-3 fatty acids might improve antidepressant therapies in heart patients. They’re giving an antidepressant drug and a special formula of omega-3 to some heart patients.

The researchers will compare these patients to depressed heart patients who receive an antidepressant but no omega-3.

Carney said his team is studying omega-3 because there’s preliminary evidence that these fatty acids might be more effective, both in treating depression and in improving heart health.

FDA finds toxin in Baxter’s recalled
Heparin products

Roz Roscoe, Staff Writer

Scientific tests have identified a contaminant in the heparin blood-thinning products made by Baxter Healthcare Corporation®. In February, the company recalled multi- and single-dose vials of heparin after it was linked to hundreds of adverse reactions—and at least four deaths in the United States.

The contaminant is a compound that mimics the drug in standard heparin tests. This explains why previous tests did not detect its presence.

According to a HealthDay report, Dr. Janet Woodcock, acting director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said “the contaminant is present in significant quantities… accounting for approximately 5 to 20 percent of the substance tested.”

The FDA and Baxter conducted the tests that found the contaminant, along with several university laboratories. Ray Godlewski, vice president of quality for Baxter’s medication delivery business, said during a subsequent teleconference that “all the contaminated heparin came from China.”

Scientific Protein Laboratories, of Waunakee, Wisconsin, and its Changzhou SPL plant in Changzhou City, China, is Baxter’s main supplier of the active pharmaceutical ingredient in heparin, Woodcock said.

Heparin is a blood-thinner made from pig intestines. The drug is often given to dialysis patients and people undergoing heart surgery.

Woodcock said it is unclear how the contaminant got into the heparin supply—and whether it is responsible for the adverse events.

Since the end of December, there have been 785 reports of adverse reactions associated with Baxter’s heparin product. This compares with less than 100 reports of such incidents in all of 2007.

The FDA reports a total of 46 deaths—four of which were associated with an adverse reaction to heparin.

Most of the reactions have taken place at hemodialysis centers, almost exclusively involving patients receiving high doses administered over a short period of time, according to the FDA.

Adverse reactions included difficulty breathing, nausea or vomiting, excessive sweating and falling blood pressure, which can lead to life-threatening shock.

“We know that some of the suspect batches of heparin that were causing the adverse events have this contaminant in it. So there is an association between the contaminant in the presence of adverse events, but it is not a direct causal link yet,” she said.

The FDA is also unsure if other heparin products used in the United States or other countries contain this contaminant, Woodcock said. The agency plans to release data on how companies can screen heparin for this contaminant, she said.

Fast Fact

To help lower your risk of cancer, eat more fish. All freshwater fish, salmon (broiled or baked) and water-packed tuna are all recommended for lowering your risk of cancer.

Women in 2002 hormone replacement study
still at risk for cancer

Tiffany Lowery

New evidence suggests women who received estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy in a 2002 clinical trial faced a greater risk of breast cancer than women who took a placebo.

This increased disease risk continues to plague these women six years after the trial was halted due to the heightened risk!

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial of estrogen plus progestin studied 16,608 postmenopausal women. Researchers wanted to determine if the estrogen/progestin mix prevented heart disease and hip fractures. They also wanted to know if it increased breast cancer risk.

The research team halted the trial in 2002 when data showed an increased risk of breast cancer—and an overall lack of health benefits from the therapy.

Scientists found that women who took the hormone combination had higher risks of cardiovascular disease… coronary heart disease… blood clots… and strokes. This group also showed lower risks of fracture and colorectal cancer.

Gerardo Heiss, M.D., of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., and colleagues examined the risks and benefits of 15,730 trial participants. These women had follow-up visits from July 2002 to March 2005… after they stopped hormone therapy.

When comparing the group of women taking hormones with those taking placebos, researchers found 281 events of any type of cancer among the group taking hormones. The placebo group had 218 cancer events.

Researchers determined that these numbers reflect a greater risk of breast cancer and other cancers in women taking hormones.

Though risk of breast cancer remained high during the follow-up&emdash;the risk was less than that experienced towards the end of the trial period.

The researchers recommend continued follow-up monitoring anywhere from three to eight years for women who quit using the estrogen/progestin hormone combination.

A follow-up study of the women was published in the March 5 issue of Journal of the American Medical Association.

Health E-Hints

Men over 50: Osteoporosis isn’t just for women!

Most American men view osteoporosis as a “woman’s disease”. But the truth is—this disease which causes bones to weaken, become misshapen or break is a significant threat to more than 2 million men in the United States.

After age 50, 6 percent of all men will experience a hip fracture. And 5 percent will fracture their
back vertebrae as a result of osteoporosis.

Some common causes of bone loss can include:

  • Glucocorticoid medications—steroid medications used to treat diseases such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Bone loss is a very common side effect of these medications.
  • Low levels of testosterone—hormone imbalances can cause bone weakening. Testosterone replacement therapy may be helpful in preventing or slowing bone loss.
  • Alcohol abuse—low bone mass is common in men seeking medical help for alcohol abuse.
  • Smoking—contributes to more rapid bone loss.

To build “bones of steel”, doctors agree you should avoid smoking, reduce alcohol intake, and increase your level of physical activity. This should include weight bearing exercises such as walking, jogging and lifting weights. You should also be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D to help boost bone strength.