Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. Heidi May: Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Statin therapy is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease incidence through the reduction of blood cholesterol levels and through its pleiotropic cardioprotective properties. Depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. It has been recommended that antidepressant medications should be considered first-line treatment for depression of any severity. We hypothesized that taking both statins and antidepressants would reduce cardiovascular risk more than either medication alone. However, we did not find this. Instead we found that the effectiveness of antidepressants and statin therapy to reduce death and incident cardiovascular disease at 3 years varied by the severity of depressive symptoms. Among those with none to mild depressive symptoms, statin use, with or without antidepressant therapy, was associated with a decrease in risk, but among those with moderate to severe depression, antidepressant use was associated with a decrease in risk. The combination of antidepressant and statin use did not result in a greater risk reduction in either depressive symptom category.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Heidi May: This study supports the importance of depression as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and the importance of its treatment. Assessment of depression should be made by clinicians like any other cardiovascular risk factor (high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels).
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Heidi May: I would like to see this study replicated in other populations and among different classes of antidepressants. It would also be interesting to evaluate these results among different subgroups of patients (women vs. men, older vs. younger, different levels of cholesterol, diabetics).
The Association of Antidepressant and Statin Use to Future Death and Incident Cardiovascular Disease Varies by Depression Severity,” will be presented on March 15 at 9:30 a.m. PT/12:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. at the ACC15 Conference
MedicalResearch.com Interview with: Heidi May, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., Cardiovascular Epidemiologist, Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, & Salt Lake City (2015). Depression Remains Important Risk Factor For Cardiovascular Disease