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Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2013;15(5). pii: PCC.13r01509. doi: 10.4088/PCC.13r01509. Epub 2013 Oct 24.

Depression treatment in patients with coronary artery disease: a systematic review.

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Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York (Drs Ramamurthy and Faraone); and Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Trejo).



Depression has been linked to adverse coronary artery disease outcomes. Whether depression treatment improves or worsens coronary artery disease prognosis is unclear. This 25-year systematic review examines medical outcomes, and, secondarily, mood outcomes of depression treatment among patients with coronary artery disease.


We systematically reviewed the past 25 years (January 1, 1986-December 31, 2011) of prospective trials reporting on the medical outcomes of depression treatment among patients with established coronary artery disease using keywords and MESH terms from OVID MEDLINE. Search 1 combined depression AND coronary artery disease AND antidepressants. Search 2 combined depression AND coronary artery disease AND psychotherapy. Search 3 combined depression AND revascularization AND antidepressants OR psychotherapy.


English-language longitudinal randomized controlled trials, with at least 50 depressed coronary artery disease patients, reporting the impact of psychotherapy and/or antidepressants on cardiac and mood outcomes were included.


Data extracted included author name, year published, number of participants, enrollment criteria, depression definition/measures (standardized interviews, rating scales), power analyses, description of control arms and interventions (psychotherapy and/or medications), randomization, blinding, follow-up duration, follow-up loss, depression scores, and medical outcomes Results: The review yielded 10 trials. Antidepressant and/or psychotherapy did not significantly influence coronary artery disease outcomes in the overall population, but most studies were underpowered. There was a trend toward worse coronary artery disease outcomes after treatment with bupropion.


After an acute coronary syndrome, depression often spontaneously remitted without treatment. Post-acute coronary syndrome persistence of depression predicted adverse coronary artery disease outcomes. Antidepressant and/or psychotherapy, particularly as part of the Coronary Psychosocial Evaluation Studies intervention, may improve prognosis in persistent depression among post-acute coronary syndrome patients. Noradrenergic antidepressants should be prescribed cautiously in patients with coronary artery disease.

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