Objective: Current understanding of the prognostic impact of depression on mortality after heart transplantation (HTx) is limited. We examined whether depression after HTx is a predictor of mortality during extended follow-up. Subsequently, we explored whether different symptom dimensions of depression could be identified and whether they were differentially associated with mortality.
Methods: Survival analyses were performed in a sample of 141 HTx recipients assessed for depression, measured by self-report of depressive symptoms (Beck Depression Inventory - version 1A [BDI-1A]), at median 5.0 years after HTx, and followed thereafter for survival status for up to 18.6 years. We used uni- and multivariate Cox proportional hazard models to examine the association of clinically significant depression (BDI-1A total score ≥10), as well as the cognitive-affective and the somatic subscales of the BDI-1A (resulting from principal component analysis) with mortality. In the multivariate analyses, we adjusted for relevant sociodemographic and clinical variables.
Results: Clinically significant depression was a significant predictor of mortality (hazard ratio = 2.088; 95% confidence interval = 1.366-3.192; p = .001). Clinically significant depression also was an independent predictor of mortality in the multivariate analysis (hazard ratio = 1.982; 95% confidence interval = 1.220-3.217; p = .006). The somatic subscale, but not the cognitive-affective subscale, was significantly associated with increased mortality in univariate analyses, whereas neither of the two subscales was an independent predictor of mortality in the multivariate analysis.
Conclusions: Depression measured by self-report after HTx is associated with increased mortality during extended follow-up. Clinical utility and predictive validity of specific depression components require further study.