Health Discoveries in General Health News

Antidepressants pose heart risk by narrowing blood vessels

April 18, 2011
An Emory University study of 500 male twins found that men who take antidepressants had an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes because the medication appears to narrow their blood vessels.

Using the antidepressants led to a 5 percent increase in carotid artery thickness in those taking the medication. Although previous research has shown a link between depression and heart disease risk, that condition did not appear to cause artery thickening, researchers concluded.

"Because we didn't see an association between depression itself and a thickening of the carotid artery, it strengthens the argument that it is more likely the antidepressants than the actual depression that could be behind the association," said Dr. Amit Shah, cardiology fellow at the university. "This study reminds us that medicines often have side effects we can't feel, and we should always take that into account."

Shah, who presented the data at a recent American Cardiology scientific meeting, said the antidepressants raise the levels of some brain chemicals that can cause blood vessels to constrict blood flow and cause higher blood pressure.

In one of the clinical trials focused on heart health within the North Shore-LIJ Health System, researchers are evaluating proteins present in the blood during a heart attack where blood flow is diminished.
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