Statins appear to lower depression risk among heart disease patients
Emerging uses of FDA Approved Drugs – by Bruce Sylvester – Heart disease patients who use statins are significantly less likely to develop depression than their counterparts who do not use statins, researchers reported online on Feb. 24 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
Mary Whooley, MD, University of California at San Francisco, and VA Medical Center, San Francisco, California, and colleagues evaluated 965 patients with heart disease for depression. They tracked the 776 patients who were not depressed (520 who were using statins and 256 who were not) for 6 years.
They found that, among the subjects taking statins, 18.5% developed depression, compared with 28% of those who were not taking statins.
As the years passed, the difference between the 2 groups grew. Subjects on statins became less likely to develop depression, and subjects not on statins became more likely to become depressed.
“This would suggest that statins may have some kind of long-term protective effect against depression, perhaps by helping to prevent atherosclerosis in the brain, which can contribute to depressive symptoms,” said Dr. Whooley.
Dr. Whooley cautioned that it could be possible that patients who take statins, “are just healthier overall than those who don’t, and somehow we’re not accounting for that in our analysis, even though we adjusted for factors such as smoking, physical activity and cholesterol levels.”
She added that if statins are definitively proven to protect against depression, they could be used to reduce the burden of depressive symptoms in patients with heart disease improve cardiovascular outcomes in depressed patients.