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The prevalence of depression is greater among cardiac patients than it is in the general population and can interfere with long-term recovery from a cardiac event or cardiac surgery. Cardiac patients who notice a change in their mood for the worse for several days, no matter how minor, should discuss the possibility of depression with their cardiac healthcare team or medical provider. In this ihealth webcast sponsored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Dr. Kim Lebowitz joins Andrew to discuss the symptoms of depression and the impact of depression on cardiac recovery and long-term prognosis. Dr. Lebowitz is Director of Cardiac Behavioral Medicine at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

The presence of depression not only contributes to feelings of distress, but it interferes with the ability to make lifestyle changes and to follow medical recommendations with ease. Dr. Lebowitz begins by explaining why there is a need for concern and why patients should be evaluated if they display signs of depression. She goes on to explain what the risk factors are and how depression is diagnosed and screened. Because there are various treatment options for treating depression, Dr. Lebowitz speaks in detail about ways to cope through lifestyle changes, medication and other interventions to minimize stress after a cardiac event or cardiac surgery.

Depression in cardiac patients is still relatively unknown to the general public. In the fall of 2008, the American Heart Association recognized that depression is a risk factor in individuals with coronary heart disease in an effort to raise awareness. If you have heart disease, or have noticed these symptoms in someone you know with heart problems, listen now to learn more about this prevalent condition.

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Andrew Schorr:

How is depression connected with cardiovascular disease, and what effect does it have for some people after a cardiovascular event?

Hello and welcome to Patient Power. I'm Andrew Schorr. Every two weeks we do these programs on significant medical topics sponsored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Now, one topic that we're well familiar with, we thought, is depression. We've done programs on depression and certainly related to chronic illness and particularly cancer. And as a cancer survivor we've talked about depression affecting people diagnosed with cancer and also family members, and we've treated that very seriously. But you know what? We've never talked about it related to cardiovascular disease. So for instance does depression play a role in increasing someone's risk of cardiovascular problems, and certainly what about if you've had a heart attack or heart surgery, some other kind of chronic heart problem does depression creep in, and can it play a role in your recovery? Or could it if it persists and is untreated even increase your risk of more serious problems continuing or even death? And there's a lot to be said there.

Well, the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern is perhaps the only place where there is a psychologist who specializes in helping people with this, and a team, and they're helping the heart patients all the time and the families. I'd like to introduce you to her, and that's Dr. Kim Lebowitz. Dr. Lebowitz is director of cardiac behavioral medicine at the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. She's also assistant professor of surgery and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

Dr. Lebowitz, welcome to Patient Power.

Dr. Lebowitz:

Thank you. It's really an honor to be here, and I'm very excited to talk to all of your listeners and patients about how our mind and body are connected, particularly when it comes to our cardiovascular health.

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