(HealthDay News) – For preoperatively depressed patients undergoing coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), antidepressant therapy has no impact on morbidity or mortality, but is associated with improvements in measures of depression and mental health quality-of-life, according to a study published in the May issue of the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Sidney Chocron, MD, PhD, from the University Hospital Jean Minjoz in France, and colleagues randomized 361 patients undergoing CABG in a 1:1 ratio to receive escitalopram (10mg daily) or placebo from 2–3 weeks before to six months after surgery. The occurrence of mortality or predefined morbidity events was assessed. Depression and mental and physical health were measured using the Beck Depression Inventory Short Form (BDI) and quality-of-life 36-Item Short Form (SF-36) self assessments.

The researchers found that at 12 months there were no differences between the two groups with regard to the composite morbidity and mortality end point (60.4% in the treated group and 60.3% in the placebo group). For all patients, and for preoperatively depressed patients, the BDI and SF-36 Mental Component Summary scores were significantly better in the escitalopram group vs. the placebo group over the six-month postoperative period. In preoperatively depressed patients, the SF-36 pain score was better overall in the escitalopram vs. placebo group.

“Subject to contraindications, we recommend antidepressant therapy in coronary revascularization patients who are preoperatively depressed,” write the authors.

The study was funded by H. Lundbeck.

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