According to lead author Dr. Susmita Mallik, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine although cases of depression were fairly common among heart attack patients younger women seemed to be at the highest risk of depression with rates of about 40 percent being observed in women 60 years and younger.
2,498 men and women who had suffered a heart attack between January 2003 and June 2004 were the participants of the study. It was found that the prevalence of depression was 40 percent in women age 60 years or younger, 21 percent in women older than 60, 22 percent in men 60 or younger and 15 percent in men older than 60.
In addition consideration of other factors such as race, medical history and coronary heart disease risk, the chances of depression were 3.1 times higher for women age 60 and younger than for men older than 60.
Mallik has revealed that the reasons behind increased rates of depression in younger women after a heart attack has not been fully understood as yet. However she notes that the study has called to attention the
importance of evaluating the psychological issues that often accompany a heart attack.
According to Dr. Nieca Goldberg, chief of women's cardiac care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City younger women are probably more susceptible to depression because a heart attack is such a major event, especially at a younger age and fears of being able to take care of the family after a heart attack usually preys on their minds.
The study has clearly revealed that depression does influence recurrent heart disease and is related to someone's social support.
Goldberg says "Women need to be able to share their emotional feelings after a heart attack and doctors have to be more careful to pick up depression."