(HealthDay News) – Depressed patients are less likely to complete exercise-based, cardiac rehabilitation programs, regardless of whether they are taking antidepressants, according to a study published in the Feb. 1 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology.

Neil F. Gordon, MD, PhD, from INTERVENT International in Savannah, GA, and colleagues analyzed data from 26,957 patients who had completed a baseline assessment before participating in a 12-week exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation program. Based on baseline self-reported history of depression and the current use of antidepressants, patients were stratified into three cohorts: non-depressed, depressed unmedicated, and depressed medicated).

The researchers found that 19.2% of patients self-reported a history of depression at baseline, with 41.5% of these patients taking antidepressants. Patients in the non-depressed cohort were significantly more likely to complete the exit assessment than patients in the depressed unmedicated or the depressed medicated cohorts (49.4% completion vs. 44.5% and 43.5%, respectively). In all three cohorts, significant improvements were noted in multiple risk factors for those who completed the exit assessment. The magnitude of improvement was similar in measures of blood pressure, serum lipids and lipoproteins, fasting glucose, weight, and body mass index for patients taking antidepressants and those who were not.

“Given the high prevalence of depression and the compelling evidence that it substantially increases the risk of coronary heart disease events, the present data have important implications for physicians and payers of health care services,” the authors write. “Specifically, our findings serve to further highlight the need to optimize secondary prevention program referral, participation, and compliance for patients with a history of depression, including those treated with antidepressants.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to INTERVENT, a lifestyle management and chronic disease risk reduction company.

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