486 patients were surveyed out of them 102 were females. 14.3 per cent of the women had worsening depression one year after their initial myocardial infarctions, as compared to 11 per cent of the men. As well, the women scored lower than their male counterparts in physical and social functioning after one year (52.97 compared to 74.82, and 77.9 to 67.42 respectively).
"We confirmed that depression definitely played a role in the quality of life of recovering patients, confirming earlier studies we've done," said Colleen Norris, lead author and an associate professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. "The findings are of concern because depression impedes recovery and ultimately, the quality of life in patients following a heart event," Norris said.
The researchers suggest that it may be because women may have a different response to the treatment for myocardial infarction or they may have a different interpretation to the experience of the treatment. Past research shows that women use different coping strategies than men. It has also been seen that women after the treatment go back to the clinic less frequently for follow up check ups or cardiac rehabilitation. Thus they do not have much support and assistance in making the lifestyle changes that are necessary for recovery after a heart attack.
The findings confirm a longstanding view that physicians should be screening for depression when patients are undergoing treatment for heart events, and it also alerts medical professionals to the fact that depression is more common in women than men, and must be addressed, Norris said. The study recommends that patients be screened for depression as part of a general health assessment when they are admitted to hospital for heart-related events.