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Depression Even More Common With Heart Failure Than Cancer

FRIDAY, May 14, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- People with heart failure are 20% more likely than those with cancer to develop depression within five years of their diagnosis, a new study finds.

Nearly 1 in 4 patients with heart failure are depressed or anxious, according to the German researchers.

"The treatment of mental illnesses in cancer patients -- psycho-oncology -- is long-established, but similar services for heart patients [psycho-cardiology] are still in their infancy," said study author Dr. Mark Luedde of the Cardiological Group Practice in Bremerhaven, Germany. "Our study suggests that heart failure patients could benefit from greater support with psychological problems."

The research, published May 14 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, used a German disease database to compare rates of depression and anxiety in the five years following a diagnosis of heart failure or cancer.

The database included nearly 97,000 patients with heart failure and about 67,000 with cancer.

Within five years of diagnosis, 23% of heart failure patients had developed depression or anxiety, the analysis found. That compared to 25.7% of patients with breast cancer, 22% of those with digestive cancers and 15% of those with prostate cancer.

"The high incidence of depression and anxiety in heart failure patients shows the importance of these problems," Luedde said in a journal news release.

While researchers did not examine the causes of mental health issues, Luedde suspects that the higher rate in breast cancer patients may owe to a fear of recurrence.

He said the rising incidence of mental health issues over time in both heart and cancer patients studied could owe to limitations on daily activities due to fatigue, impaired mobility and other debilitating symptoms.

"Psychological support services for patients with cancer are relatively common," Luedde said. "However, more help is needed for those with heart failure -- of whom almost one-quarter develop depression or anxiety after their diagnosis."

More information

To learn more about heart disease and mental health, visit the American Heart Association.

SOURCE: European Society of Cardiology, news release, May 14, 2021

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