Mental health drugs are associated with an increased risk of premature death in patients with heart conditions. According to research published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, psychotropic drugs such as antidepressants and benzodiazepines are associated with an almost double risk of premature death in patients with heart problems.
While previous studies have found an association between anxiety symptoms and adverse health effects, including death, in patients with heart disease, this study examines whether this relationship can be explained by the use of psychotropic drugs.
The study found that almost one in five patients with heart disease takes mental health medications, with one in three suffering from anxiety.
One in five patients with heart disease is taking mental health medication
The study included nearly 13,000 participants who were hospitalized for coronary heart disease, arrhythmias, heart failure, or valve disease. Each participant completed a hospital discharge questionnaire and was classified as anxious when they scored eight points on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS-A). The researchers then used national registries to find out which patients were taking psychotropic drugs. Participants were defined as users of psychotropic drugs if they obtained at least one prescription within six months prior to admission to the hospital.
Patients were followed one year after discharge from the hospital, and researchers found that almost one in five (18%) took psychotropic drugs. The most commonly used drugs were benzodiazepines (68%) and antidepressants (55%).
The use of psychotropic drugs is higher in women, elderly patients, smokers, widowed patients, patients with low education and patients with multiple health problems. The study also found that the use of psychotropic drugs was twice as high in patients with anxiety (28%) as in patients without anxiety (14%).
Patients with heart disease who have anxiety should tell their doctor
Annual mortality was higher for psychotropic drug users (6%) compared with non-users (2%), and psychotropic drugs were associated with a 1.90 higher probability of any cause of death in the first year after discharge. The presence of anxiety was associated with a 1.81 higher probability of all causes of death in the same time period.
If the analyzes were also adjusted for pre-hospital psychotropic use and the presence of anxiety, the associations weakened to 1.73 and 1.67.
As the author of the study, Dr. Pernille Fevejle Cromhout of Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark: "Weakness in relationships suggests that the link between psychotropic drugs and death is influenced by the presence of anxiety. And of course, the link between fear and death is influenced by the use of psychotropic drugs.
He added: "Patients with heart disease who suffer from anxiety should inform the healthcare professionals involved in their treatment, as well as any other pre-existing condition. This should also be required. They have found that they are concerned that they are considered important and equal to their heart disease. Source of the article.