Background: Depression is frequently observed in patients with heart failure and is associated with poor quality of life and adverse prognosis. However, the prevalence of depression in heart failure could be overestimated because symptoms of depression overlap with those of heart failure. Similarly, the importance of depression may be overestimated if depression merely reflects worse heart failure. Because the response to depression treatment has not been evaluated in this patient population, we evaluated the efficacy of controlled-release paroxetine (paroxetine CR), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, on depression and quality of life in chronic heart failure.
Methods: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled design was used to evaluate reductions in depression following 12 weeks of treatment with paroxetine CR (n = 14, age 62.1 +/- 12.3 years) or placebo (n = 14, age = 61.9 +/- 9.0 years). Patients with symptomatic congestive heart failure and a score of at least 10 on the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) were eligible. Beck Depression Inventory was obtained at baseline and 4, 8, and 12 weeks of follow-up. Quality of life was assessed using the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form and the Minnesota Living with Heart Failure Questionnaire.
Results: Controlled-release paroxetine resulted in significantly more recovery from depression (BDI <10) than placebo (69% vs 23%, P = .018) and resulted in lower continuous BDI scores throughout the intervention (P = .024). Controlled-release paroxetine was associated with higher general health levels compared with placebo on the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short Form survey (38 +/- 10 vs 30 +/- 6, P = .016) at 12 weeks of follow-up. Reductions in depression were correlated with improvements in psychological aspects of quality of life (P < .05) but not with physical quality of life measures (P > .10).
Conclusion: Antidepressant therapy with paroxetine CR results in significant reductions in depression among patients with heart failure. The reductions in depression with paroxetine CR are accompanied by improvements in psychological aspects of quality of life. Larger controlled trials are needed to further document the effectiveness of paroxetine CR and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in patients with heart failure and to determine patient subgroups that are most likely to benefit from antidepressive interventions.