Depression and Heart Attacks

The Annals of Cardiology No.23 | Depression and Heart Attacks

You can read the introduction below or read the full version here.

Do you get frustrated by all those pills you have to take? Maybe part of the reason is not understanding what the purpose of each is. A medication should benefit you in one of three ways – it should make you feel better (e.g. pain killers), it should prevent bad things from happening (in the way blood pressure pills prevent strokes) or it should lengthen life (in the way aspirin does after a heart attack). In doctor’s lingo we refer to these things as alleviating symptoms, preventing morbidity, and having a favorable mortality effect. Feel better, do more, live longer.

In my experience, Bermudians don’t mind taking pills that make them feel better – they know what they’ve signed up for, and they can judge whether it works. They’re more skeptical when they’re prescribed pills to prevent some bad future-thing from happening, and more ambivalent still when you tell them the pill will make them live longer. I think some people interpret living longer as spending their last years with dementia or some other equally disabling disorder. No one wants that.
If you’ve had a heart attack, chances are your cardiologist has prescribed a cocktail of medications that don’t make you feel better, but have been proven to prevent further heart attacks and lengthen life – some of these are the beta-blockers (for example metoprolol, atenolol, and others), angiotensin receptor blockers (losartan, candesartan, and others), statins (atorvastatin, rosuvastatin – aka Lipitor and Crestor, etc.), and aspirin. That’s a lot to swallow.

Continued in the full newsletter…

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