|ASK THE EXPERT |
ASK THE EXPERTS
Depression and Your Heart
Q: I’ve heard that people who
survive a heart attack or who
have heart surgery can develop
Chairman of Psychiatry Charles
Morgan, MD, responds:
A: Life can be very different for
anyone who survives a life-ordeath
cardiac event or who
undergoes major heart surgery due to heart disease.
Following the event, patients often expect to have to make
some serious lifestyle changes in what they eat or how
much they exercise. Others quit smoking or work on
reducing stress. What many don’t expect is depression.
For some, the depression will go away on its own in a few
months. However, many people suffer from depression
much longer than necessary and live each day waiting
to feel like themselves again.
Research indicates an association between depression and
heart disease, but the exact reason for the relationship
remains inconclusive. Here are some other facts about the
- About 1 in 3 adults in the United States who
have survived a heart attack experience depression.
- Many people who have been hospitalized for
unstable angina, angioplasty, bypass surgery
and valve surgery also experience depression.
- Depression is slightly higher in those with
congestive heart failure.
Depression can get in the way of cardiac recovery. Depression
can also bring on new health concerns, so it’s important
for all adults who have survived a cardiac event to
be evaluated by their physicians. Survivors can benefit
greatly from early recognition and treatment, because treatment
can improve quality of life and well-being.
Sleep and Your Heart
Q: I typically don’t sleep well.
Can lack of sleep hurt my heart?
Medical Director of the Center
for Sleep Medicine Armand
Wolff, MD, FCCP, FAASM,
A: The more we learn about
sleep, the more we understand
how truly vital it is to maintaining
our overall health. In addition to affecting our memory,
our moods and our energy levels, research has shown
that too little sleep, interrupted sleep and sleep disorders,
such as sleep apnea, also take a toll on the heart.
People who have sleep apnea stop breathing for up to a
minute during sleep. As they struggle to breathe, the brain
reacts by waking the person up enough to reopen the windpipe.
This cycle can repeat hundreds of times a night,
resulting in interrupted sleep, low oxygen levels in the body
and, as emerging research indicates, a greater risk for heart
disease. In fact, sleep apnea has been linked to high blood
pressure, irregular heartbeats and an increased risk of heart
attacks and stroke.
Research has also shown a link between lack of sleep and elevated
blood pressure. Blood pressure levels should naturally
drop when we sleep. It’s a normal response. People with
sleep apnea or who aren’t sleeping enough do not experience
that nightly drop in blood pressure. Over time, a sustained
blood pressure level may be harmful to the heart.
A sleep study is the first step in identifying a sleep disorder
and, sometimes, a heart condition. A sleep study tracks a
patient’s breathing, brain waves and heartbeat for an entire
night. Occasionally, the heart data shows that in addition
to a sleep disorder, a patient also has atrial fibrillation or
another cardiac arrhythmia.
Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is very beneficial
to our overall health, and it sounds like it’s been
awhile since you’ve slept well. Please talk to your doctor
about ways you can improve your sleep—and possibly
protect your heart.
For a referral to an expert physician, please call us toll free, please call us
toll free, 24/7, at 1-800-794-5013.