After my father underwent quadruple bypass surgery in early 2007 he suffered a very minor stroke (which thankfully left no negative effects) which forced him back into the hospital for a few days to be monitored. It turned out that my father has a tiny hole in his heart which at the time caused a small blood clot to be shot through his body. He is perfectly fine now, but will most likely have to take a daily dose of Coumadin to prevent further blood clots.
One thing that struck me during his second admittance to the hospital was how seriously depressed he became. He began uttering that he had a feeling that he would not make it back out of the hospital. This had me very concerned, because my father throughout his life has suffered from light depression. My wife and I addressed this with my father's cardiologist and found out that most cardiac patients will suffer post-surgery depressive incidents. We tried to get my father to acknowledge his depression and talk to someone, to no avail.
Mental issues such as depression should never be taken lightly, especially by those that suffer or have suffered from heart disease. According to a recent study patients who suffer from depression and who also have heart disease are almost five times as likely to die as people who are mentally and physically healthy. The study, done by researchers in England, Finland, France, and the U.S. examined data from about 6,000 middle-aged adults where about 14.9% of the study participants scored high on a test designed to determine whether they were depressed.
The end result found that there exist links between depression and cardiac death. The researchers found that patients who were both depressed and had heart disease were almost five times as likely to die as people who were mentally and physically healthy. However, after adjusting for age, sex, and other factors, the combination of depression and heart disease tripled the risk of death from all causes and quadrupled the risk of death from a stroke or heart attack.
As was the case with my father, his heart disease and major surgery made him realize how close he came to death, and that feeling of frailty made him much more prone to a depressive state. Realizing that one needs help with depression and taking this illness seriously is a major step forward in cutting the risk of death especially for those suffering from heart disease. I remain hopeful that one day my father will realize that he needs help and finally address this issue for the good of his heart.
Published On: September 21, 2010