Taking Antidepressant? Could Help Your Heart. I am not sure I really like this study. A new study found that screening for and treating depression could help to reduce the risk of heart disease in patients with moderate to severe depression. I am all for treating depression but I also know that antidepressants are the most prescribed medication in this country. And I would hate to see studies like this unnecessarily increase the use of them. Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City analyzed the health records and rates of death, coronary artery disease and stroke of more than 26,000 patients treated in the statewide network of health centers over a three-year period. Patients completed a nine-question depression screening questionnaire, which assessed such factors as mood, sleep and appetite, to determine their level of depressive symptoms. Based on the questionnaires, researchers identified 5,311 patients as having moderate to severe depression and 21,517 patients as having no to mild depression. The study found patients with moderate to severe depression who took antidepressants alone had a lower risk of death, coronary artery disease and stroke than patients with moderate to severe depression who did not take antidepressant or statin medications. Taking statins alone or in combination with antidepressants was not associated with a significant risk reduction in this group of patients. ÛÏWhat I take away from this study is that screening and treatment of depressive symptoms should be a high priority,Û said Heidi May, Ph.D., M.S.P.H., a cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, Salt Lake City, and the studyÛªs lead author. ÛÏAntidepressants were not associated with a reduced cardiovascular risk in people with little or no depression, but in moderately to severely depressed people, antidepressants were shown to significantly improve cardiovascular outcomes.Û Depression is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The researchers excluded from the analysis patients with known cardiovascular disease such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or a previous heart attack or stroke. They also excluded those who were already taking antidepressants when they completed the questionnaire. Although the study did not directly investigate how antidepressants might improve cardiovascular health, May said the link could be related to behavioral changes. ÛÏAntidepressants might have relevant physiological benefits, but I also think that improving a personÛªs mood can contribute to a cascade of behavioral changes that improve cardiovascular health,Û May said. ÛÏFor example, people who are having depressive symptoms may not be as inclined to exercise, practice good health habits or comply with health advice. Using an antidepressant to reduce depressive symptoms might also help people better take care of their heart health.Û An estimated one in 10 adults suffers from depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients with depression have a two- to four-times greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those without depression.