McGowan Institute faculty member Dennis McNamara, MD, professor of medicine and director of Heart Failure Transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), is a member of a research team recently funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health to develop a novel intervention strategy for simultaneously treating congestive heart failure and major depression. The 3-year, $500,000 grant study is designed to obtain the necessary feasibility and clinical data required to plan a large-scale trial.
The research team will modify their “Bypassing the Blues” protocol for treating post-coronary artery bypass graft surgery depression—a protocol that had received NIH funding for its clinical trial to assess its applicability for simultaneously treating congestive heart failure and major depression . They will employ the UPMC outpatient guidelines for treating heart failure and then pilot their “blended” treatment strategy for treating depressed heart failure patients. They will recruit approximately 500 patients admitted for an acute episode of heart failure from several UPMC hospitals, and then conduct follow-up telephone assessments at 1, 3, and 6 months to estimate suitably sensitive and specific cut-off scores for treating depression by gender and severity of heart failure.
“Cardiologists can help their patients if they are provided with the knowledge of depression’s devastating effects on heart disease. Early studies have demonstrated that if patients are treated for depression after heart surgery or any invasive heart procedure, they are more likely to stick to their scheduled treatments and have a better, more positive outlook toward recovery,” says Dr. McNamara.
Heart failure affects 5 million Americans, with more than 550,000 newly diagnosed cases, 287,000 deaths, and $30 billion in both direct and indirect costs each year. It also is the leading cause for hospitalization, and its 5-year mortality rate following first hospital admission for heart failure exceeds that of most cancers. Depression is present in approximately 20 to 50 percent of heart failure patients and compelling evidence links it to increased morbidity and mortality and reduced quality of life.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
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