The factor physicians say is a big part of cardiac event recovery

Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder can influence healing after a major cardiac event, according to a May 23 article on the American Heart Association website.

Emotional and mental needs after a cardiac event are not always well understood but can have a big impact on healing and quality of life afterward. Patients with depression recover more slowly after heart surgery, Julie Cunningham, PhD, a clinical health psychologist who works with cardiac patients at Samaritan Medical Group in Corvallis, Ore., said in the article.

"Addressing depression is important. Not just for mental health — it's actually really important for cardiac health, too," she said.

Each cardiac experience comes with a different type and level of mental health risk, Sachin Agarwal, MD, director of the NeuroCardiac Comprehensive Care Clinic at Columbia University in New York City, said in the article. 

Here are five statistics on the prevalence of mental health after a cardiac event:

  1. A depression diagnosis after a heart attack can lead to a higher risk of death, according to a 2017 study.

  2. Studies show depression or anxiety affect more than 30 percent of people who have their aortic heart valve replaced and 30 percent to 40 percent of people who have heart bypass surgery.

  3. One in 8 heart attack survivors will experience post-traumatic stress.

  4. Nearly 1 in 4 survivors of any stroke report PTSD a year later, according to a 2018 study.

  5. One-third of people who undergo cardiac arrest will have PTSD symptoms, and approximately half will have depression at discharge.

Researchers have found biological links between depression and heart disease, according to the report. But Dr. Cunningham said some of the emotional toll can be mitigated through cardiac rehabilitation. The exercises can reduce symptoms of moderate depression, cardiac rehab staff can be sources of emotional support and provide referrals to therapy, and socializing with other heart patients can be a source of support. Those not in cardiac rehab can find support and referrals through their cardiologist or primary care physician, the article said.

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