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Depression drug aids heart patients

January 29, 2007|From Times wire reports

A drug can combat depression common among patients with severe heart disease, but psychological counseling doesn't seem to work, a study has found.

The report from the University of Montreal Hospital Center said there have been few studies looking at how much antidepressants help heart disease patients with depression, even though as many as 27% may suffer from it. Doctors believe that treating the depression may also slow the deterioration of patients' health.

The Canadian study, published in the Jan. 25 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn., involved 284 patients variously given the drug citalopram -- sold as Celexa -- a placebo or short-term psychotherapy. The patients had previously suffered a heart attack or major blockage of arteries.

Citalopram is one of a class of antidepressants called SSRIs.

The study found that the drug worked to combat depression by easing its most common symptoms, with the effect apparent within six weeks. But, it concluded, counseling did not have an effect.

To read the study, go to jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/297/4/367.

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