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Antidepressants Not Found to Increase Heart Risk

Last Updated: December 18, 2009.

Postmenopausal women taking antidepressants, whether they are tricyclic medications or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are not at increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to their counterparts not taking the drugs, but there is a modestly higher risk of mortality and stroke, according to a study in the Dec. 14/28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

FRIDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women taking antidepressants, whether they are tricyclic medications or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are not at increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to their counterparts not taking the drugs, but there is a modestly higher risk of mortality and stroke, according to a study in the Dec. 14/28 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Jordan W. Smoller, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a study of 136,293 community-dwelling postmenopausal women who were not taking antidepressants at baseline, of whom 5,496 were taking the drugs at follow-up after a mean 5.9 years.

The risk of coronary heart disease was the same for women taking or not taking antidepressants, but there was an increased risk of stroke among women taking SSRIs, at 4.16 per 1,000 person-years versus 2.99 for those not taking antidepressants, the researchers found. Risk of all-cause mortality was slightly higher among those taking tricyclic medications or SSRIs.

"Although these results raise concerns about adverse effects of antidepressants, it is important to note that depression itself has been implicated as a risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke, early death, and other adverse outcomes," the authors write. "Nevertheless, our results suggest that physicians should be vigilant about controlling other modifiable cardiovascular risk factors in women taking antidepressants."

Several authors reported financial relationships with various pharmaceutical companies.

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