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Healthy Heart Reports

Depression After Heart Attack: Death


The authors of a study in a recent issue of the American Heart Journal claim that depression markedly increases a person's chances of dying within one year after a heart attack (1). But depression may not be the cause of death; it may be that the same thing that causes depression also causes heart attacks (2).

You need to eat carbohydrates, fats and proteins to be healthy. You must get two fatty acids from the food you eat because your body cannot manufacture them: the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Many recent papers in the scientific literature show that lack of essential omega-3 fatty acids causes heart attacks and that if you suffer a heart attack, it also can cause irregular heart beats and sudden death (3,4,5,6,7,8,9). Lack of omega-3 fatty acids also causes depression (10,11). So lack of omega-3 fatty acids can cause depression and it also causes irregular heart beats and sudden death. You need essential omega-3 fatty acids and you don't have to eat deep water fish to get them. You can get omega-3 fatty acids in whole grains such as wheat, seeds such as flax and pumpkin, beans such as soybeans, and nuts such as walnuts.

1) MW Kaufmann, JP Fitzgibbons, EJ Sussman, JF Reed, JM Einfalt, JK Rodgers, GL Fricchione.Relation between myocardial infarction, depression, hostility, and death.American Heart Journal, 1999, Vol 138, Iss 3, Part 1, pp 549-554.

2) Musselman DL, Evans DL, Nemeroff CB. The relationship of depression to cardiovascular disease: epidemiology, biology, and treatment. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1998;55:580-592.

3) Albert CM, Hennekens CH, O'Donnell CJ, Ajani UA, Carey VJ, Willett WC, Ruskin JN, Manson JE. Fish consumption and risk of sudden cardiac death. JAMA. 1998;279:23-28.

4) Siscovick DS, Raghunathan TE, King I, Weinmann S, Wicklund KG, Albright J, Bovbjerg V, Arbogast P, Smith H, Kushi LH, Cobb LA, Copass MK, Psaty BM, Lemaitre R, Retzlaff B, Childs M, Knopp RH. Dietary intake and cell membrane levels of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risk of primary cardiac arrest. JAMA. 1995;274:1363-1367.

5) Burr ML, Fehily AM, Gilbert JF, Rogers S, Holliday RM, Sweetnam PM, Elwood PC, Deadman NM. Effects of changes in fat, fish and fibre intakes on death and myocardial reinfarction: diet and reinfarction trial. Lancet. 1989;2:757-761.

6) Sellmayer A, Witzgall H, Lorenz RL, Weber PC. Effects of dietary fish oil on ventricular premature complexes. Am J Cardiol. 1995;76:974-977.

7) Gudbjarnason S, Benediktsdottir VE, Skuladottir G. Effects of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on coronary heart disease. Bibl Nutr Dieta. 1989;43:1-12.

8) Christensen JH, Korup E, Aaroe J, Tort E, Moller J, Rasmussen K, Dyerberg J, Schmidt EB. Fish consumption, n-3 fatty acids in cell membranes, and heart rate variability in survivors of myocardial infarction with left ventricular dysfunction. Am J Cardiol. 1997;79:1670-1673.

9) Christensen JH, Gustenhoff P, Korup E, Aaroe J, Toft E, Moller J, Rasmussen K, Dyerberg J, Schmidt EB. Effect of fish oil on heart rate variability in survivors of myocardial infarction: a double blind randomised controlled trial. BMJ. 1996;312:677-678.

10) Edwards R, Peet M, Shay J, Horrobin D. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in the diet and in red blood cell membranes of depressed patients. J Affect Disord. 1998;48:149-155.

11) Adams PB, Lawson S, Sanigorski A, Sinclair AJ. Arachidonic acid to eicosapentaenoic acid ratio in blood correlates positively with clinical symptoms of depression. Lipids. 1996;31:S-157-161.

12) Maes M, Smith R, Christophe A, Cosyns P, Desnyder R, Meltzer H. Fatty acid composition in major depression: decreased omega 3 fractions in cholesteryl esters and increased C20:4 omega-6/C20:5 omega-3 ratio in cholesteryl esters and phospholipids. J Affect Disord. 1996;38:35-46.

Copyright 2003
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

For more recipes, refer to the The Healthy Heart Miracle book.