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Mental health medication doubles risk of heart attack

Mental health medication doubles risk of heart attack

For years, researchers have looked at mental illness and the possible link to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have established links between depression, anxiety and psychotic disorders and a heightened risk of coronary heart disease. In 2013, a study published in Circulation widened the scope to include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, neurotic disorder, personality disorders and substance-use disorders.1

This week, a study published by Dr. Katie Goldie (MNSc ’06, at left) exploring this link – with a focus on medications – was released. Presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, Katie’s research concluded that some of the medications that are used to treat mental illnesses double the risk of heart attack and triple the risk of stroke as compared to individuals not taking these medications.2

“Goldie’s research notes that so-called first-generation antidepressants such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) cause patients to gain weight more than second- and third-generation antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).”3 Such weight gain can lead to increased risk factors like high cholesterol and diabetes.

Katie is currently finishing a post-doctoral fellowship, and will join the School of Nursing as an assistant professor in January. “I am excited to welcome Katie back to the School of Nursing in January; this time as a faculty member,” says Jennifer Medves, Director, School of Nursing. “Katie brings with her a wealth of experience and the interdisciplinary nature of her work will no doubt enrich the Faculty.”

The findings of this study, paired with the fact that 20% of Canadians experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives, send an important message. “Health care providers need to pay even closer attention to patients with mental health disorders,” says Katie. “We need improved integration and collaboration.”2

Share your thoughts on Katie’s study by responding to the blog, or better yet, please drop by the Macklem House, my door is always open.



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