Background: In patients with left-heart disease, depressive symptoms have a significant impact on functional status and quality of life. The prevalence of depressive symptoms, and their impact on patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is understudied.
Objective: The authors investigated the prevalence of depressive symptoms in PAH and their correlation with physical functioning.
Method: Consecutive outpatients with PAH (idiopathic; or associated with scleroderma, congenital heart disease, or anorexiant use) seen in two university PAH clinics were screened. At two outpatient visits, 8 to 16 weeks apart, patients completed the PHQ-8, a well-validated instrument for grading severity of depressive symptoms; they were assessed for cardiac functional class (FC), and performed a 6-minute walk-distance test (6MWD).
Results: A group of 100 patients (88% women, 50% with idiopathic PAH) were enrolled. At baseline, 15% of subjects had symptoms suggestive of major depressive disorder; 40% had mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms; and 45% had no-to-minimal depressive symptoms.
Conclusion: Depression is common in patients with PAH, with 55% demonstrating depressive symptoms. These results suggest that screening patients with PAH will identify a large proportion of patients who might benefit from depression therapy.