Depression and long-term mortality risk in patients with coronary artery disease

Am J Cardiol. 1996 Sep 15;78(6):613-7. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(96)00380-3.


Previous research has established that patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) have an increased risk of death if they are depressed at the time of hospitalization. Follow-up periods have been short in these studies; therefore, the present investigation examined this phenomenon over an extended period of time. Patients with established CAD (n = 1,250) were assessed for depression with the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) and followed for subsequent mortality. Follow-up ranged up to 19.4 years. SDS scores were associated with increased risk of subsequent cardiac death (p = 0.002) and total mortality (p < 0.001) after controlling for initial disease severity and treatment. Patients with moderate to severe depression had a 69% greater odds of cardiac death and a 78% greater odds of mortality from all causes than nondepressed patients. Increased risk was not confined to the initial months after hospitalization. Patients with high SDS scores at baseline still had a higher risk of cardiac death > 5 years later (p < 0.005). Compared with the nondepressed, patients with moderate to severe depression had an 84% greater risk 5 to 10 years later and a 72% greater risk after > 10 years. Patients with mild depression had intermediate levels of risk in all models. The heightened long-term risk of depressed patients suggests that depression may be persistent or frequently recurrent in CAD patients and is associated with CAD progression, triggering of acute events, or both.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Disease / complications*
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Survival Analysis