In a new study from Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark, researchers found men with heart failure have worse long-term survival rates if they have severe depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
They urge doctors to change the way they treat people with mental disorders.
Previous research shows people with these conditions have an earlier onset of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart attack.
But little was known about how heart failure, in which the heart can’t pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs, figures into the equation.
In the study, the team looked at more than 20,000 people with heart failure in the Duke University Health System from 2002 to 2017.
During a median follow-up of seven years, men with severe depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia were 36% more likely to die from any cause than those without.
The risk of death over 10 years increased from 54.8% for men without a mental disorder to 64.3% for men with one.
For women, however, the researchers found no major difference in risk of death between those with and without one of the severe mental health disorders.
The study also found people with severe depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia were seven years younger on average at the time of their heart failure diagnosis than those without – 60 years old versus 67.
People with the disorders who underwent procedures for heart failure, including implantable devices and heart transplants, had higher death rates after the procedures.
The team suggests doctors and heart failure specialists need to become more aware of mental health disorders among their patients and take early preventive steps.
To reduce the overall burden of heart failure in this population, the team encouraged a multidisciplinary approach, with heart failure specialists working hand in hand with psychiatrists, heart rhythm specialists and general practitioners.
The study points out that European and U.S. guidelines for heart failure treatment recommend screening for and treating depression, but not other severe mental disorders.
People with a mental health disorder and their loved ones, need to recognize the importance of regular physician visits to monitor their condition, to take their medications as prescribed, and to engage in important health behaviors.
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The study is published in Circulation: Heart Failure. One author of the study is Dr. Christoffer Polcwiartek.
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