Background: Depression is associated with clinical events and premature mortality among patients with established coronary artery disease (CAD). Typically, however, studies in this area focus only on baseline symptom severity and lack any data concerning symptom duration or symptom history.
Objectives: To describe and compare the relationships between 2 measures of depression-assessed in the form of depression symptom severity and reported treatment history-with atherosclerosis risk factors and major clinical events in a sample of women with suspected myocardial ischemia.
Design: Follow-up study of women who completed a diagnostic CAD protocol, including cardiac symptoms, coronary angiography, ischemic testing, and assessments of depression symptom severity and reported treatment history.
Setting: The Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE), a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)-sponsored multicenter study assessing cardiovascular function using state-of-the-art techniques in women referred for coronary angiography to evaluate chest pain or suspected myocardial ischemia.
Participants: Five hundred five women (mean age, 53.4 years) enrolled in WISE and followed up for a mean of 4.9 years.
Main outcome measures: Incidence of cardiac events, including myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart failure, and total mortality.
Results: Relative to those with no or less stable depression symptoms, women with elevated depression symptoms and a reported treatment history showed higher rates of smoking, hypertension, and poorer education and an increased incidence of death and cardiac events (multivariate-adjusted risk ratio, 3.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-6.3; P = .001).
Conclusions: Among women with suspected myocardial ischemia, a combination of depressive symptom severity and treatment history was a strong predictor of an elevated CAD risk profile and increased risk of cardiac events compared with those without depression or with only 1 of the 2 measured depression markers. These findings reinforce the importance of assessing mental health factors in women at elevated CAD risk. Focusing only on baseline depression symptom severity may provide an incomplete picture of CAD risk.