Psychological Consequences Up for Spouses of MI Victims

Higher risk of depression than for those whose spouses experience other illnesses

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Spouses of individuals who have a sudden heart attack are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and suicide, even if the individual survives, than spouses of those who experience other illnesses, according to a study published online Aug. 21 in the European Heart Journal.

Emil L. Fosbøl, M.D., Ph.D., from the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues analyzed data from several national Danish registries to compare psychological consequences in 16,506 spouses of individuals who died of an acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and 49,518 matched spouses of individuals who died of a non-AMI cause. They also examined 44,566 spouses of individuals who had a non-fatal AMI and 131,563 matched spouses of individuals who had a non-fatal, non-AMI hospitalization.

The researchers found that, among the spouses of individuals who died, spouses of those who died of AMI had significantly greater usage of antidepressants (peak incidence rate ratio [IRR], 5.7 versus 3.3) and benzodiazepines (IRR, 46.4 versus 13.0) as well as a higher risk of depression and suicide after the event. Among the spouses of individuals who survived, spouses of those who survived an AMI also had a significantly higher risk of starting antidepressants (IRR, 1.5 versus 1.1) and benzodiazepines (IRR, 6.7 versus 1.3) than spouses of those who survived other events. Males whose spouses had an AMI, whether fatal or non-fatal, had a higher risk of depression than their female counterparts.

"Spouses of those who experience AMIs -- both fatal and non-fatal -- are at elevated risk for psychological consequences; therefore, the care needs of AMI patients and their spouses need to be considered," Fosbøl and colleagues conclude.

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